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What is a Mooncake? And Its Importance in Chinese Culture?



What is a Mooncake? What It Symbolizes in Chinese Culture?

Mooncakes are not cakes found on the Moon. They are Chinese pastries that are eaten during the mid-autumn festival or the August Moon Festival. They are very rich and heavy, and there is a popular legend about them.

The custom of eating mooncakes began in the late Yuan dynasty. As the story goes, the Han people of that time plotted a revolution against their Mongol rulers. But they needed to find a way of uniting the people to revolt on the same day, without letting the Mongol rulers learn of the plan.


The revolutionaries finally came up with a brilliant idea. A rumor was spread that a plague was ravaging the land and that only by eating a special moon cake distributed by the revolutionaries could the disaster be prevented.

The moon cakes were then distributed only to the Han people, who found, upon cutting the cakes open, the message ‘revolt on the fifteenth of the eight moons’ the date of the mid-autumn festival.

The people did rise together on that day, and the Mongol rulers were overthrown. Since that day, moon cakes have always been eaten during the mid-autumn festival, and they have come to symbolize the gathering of family and friends. They also form a part offering made to the earth god, Tu Tu Kung.

How to Make Traditional Chinese Mooncake?

Video: Joshua Weissman

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