How much do you know about the Moon Festival? Guest Blogger Yen Le of @cooking.with.yen shares her experience and a creative way to celebrate
When I asked the question – What do you know about the Moon festival? Most people just think of the mooncakes but not many people know about the history and traditions behind it. Especially those people who, like me, are Asian but are living in Western Countries. I hope to share with you what I have learnt so that this important part of Asian culture is not lost.
I am Vietnamese so I will write about how Vietnamese people celebrate this festival. We call it Tet Trung Thu. Tet means festival, Trung means middle and Thu means Autumn therefore it is the Mid-Autumn Festival and is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.
When I was in primary school from years 1-3. I went to a school in an area in Perth where most of the kids were Vietnamese, so the school taught us about Vietnamese festivals and I remember learning about the Moon Festival. I remember making lanterns at school and we were told stories.
This is the story about the boy in the moon. When you look at the full moon during the Moon Festival you can see him sitting under a tree and this is how he got there.
Many centuries ago there was a tree. There was a young boy playing near it when he heard the roar of a tiger so he hid behind a bush nearby. Along came a tiger with her cub who had an injured paw. The tiger climbed the tree, picked a leaf from the tree and started rubbing the cub’s paw with the leaf. Magically the paw healed and the cub and tiger ran off.
The boy was surprised, it was a magic tree, but he was a naughty boy. He urinated on the tree and because of this the tree got angry, uprooted itself and flew to the moon with the boy hanging on. And that's why there's a boy on the moon.
I was only 6-8 years old when I learnt that story but it was so funny I still remember it to this day.
There are many folklore stories such as this, some of a man and there are even stories of a woman on the moon, they are all very similar and we should pass these stories down to our children.
In Vietnam, Tet Trung Thu is also known as the Children’s Festival. On that night children carry beautiful lanterns in all different forms and shapes in a procession and dance on the streets under the full moon.
I remember as a child my mum would buy small lanterns for my brother and I, they were just simple paper ones with coloured cellophane. We would light the candle in the middle of it and walk around our backyard in the night. We had so much fun with them. I can imagine how wonderful it would be for children in Vietnam parading in the streets with thousands of other children singing and dancing. It would definitely be a most magical and fun night.
The believed origin of these processions is that these beautifully lit lanterns can be seen above by the boy in the moon and it’s supposed to help him find his way back home. During Tet Trung Thu there’s also lion dancing which is said to scare off evil spirits.
Let’s get to the FOOD!
As everyone thinks of mooncakes when we think of the Moon Festival I believe most of us already know a little bit of what they signify.
Mooncakes are traditionally round like the moon, representing harmony and unity of the family. A traditional moon cake has a thick sweet filling of red bean or lotus seed paste and contains a salted egg yolk inside.
Today there are probably hundreds of different kinds of cakes of all shapes and flavours.
Mooncakes are shared with family and friends with tea during the Moon Festival.
I love Tet Trung Thu, not because of the mooncakes but because of the celebration itself which involves the family coming together over food. You might already know this but I don’t have a sweet tooth so I don’t usually eat sweet mooncakes.
Who’s to say that a mooncake can’t be savoury?
I present to you my Sushi Mooncakes. I made two kinds, one with salmon sashimi and one with tuna sashimi, both have seaweed salad inside. When making these please ensure you buy the sashimi grade salmon and tuna.
Watch me make the tuna sushi mooncake.
Whether you love sweet mooncakes or prefer savoury mooncakes. The Moon Festival, like all celebrations is a time to spend with your loved ones over amazing food and that is the most important aspect of all.
This is my last post as Lion Brand’s guest blogger. It’s been wonderful and I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts this month. Keep following as there will be more wonderful posts to come from other guest bloggers.
Happy Cooking my Friends,
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