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The story behind the Moon Festival

How much do you know about one of Asia’s most popular festivals?

Published: 3 September 2019

The Moon Festival (as it is referred to in Chinese culture) falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Lunar calendar and has for centuries been a time for families to get together, eat mooncakes and celebrate the full moon.

This year celebrations take place in Howick and closer to the city  at Dominion Road.

The Moon has always been an important part of Chinese culture and there are many different myths surrounding the festival's genesis. One of the most popular ones begins with an elixir of immortality.

The story of the Moon Goddess

Legends tell of a time, far in the distant past, when ten suns had risen together into the skies, scorching the earth and causing hardship for the people. 

An archer called Yi shot down nine of them, leaving just one sun, and was given the elixir of immortality as a reward. He left the elixir with his wife Chang’e, as he did not want to gain immortality without her. However, while Yi went out hunting Chang’e drank it and fled toward the heavens with her rabbit, choosing the Moon as her residence. 

What is a mooncake?

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the most beloved traditions of the Moon Festival. While there are many different variations of moon cakes across Asia, including savoury ones, the classic sweet most closely associated with the festival has been made the same way for centuries: salty egg yolk pastry, stuffed with paste made from lotus seeds or beans.

The round shape symbolises completeness and reunion, and the egg yolk represents the full moon in the sky. 

While the Moon Festival is celebrated as a harvest festival in Chinese and Vietnamese culture, Korean communities celebrate Chuseok, and Japanese communities celebrate Tsukimi at the same time of the year.

Aucklanders can experience the full culture and traditions of Moon Festival through a variety of community celebrations funded by their local boards.

Highlights of this year’s Moon Festival celebrations include:

Howick Moon Festival - 4pm, Saturday 14 September, Lloyd Elsmore Park

Dominion Road Moon Festival - 13-15 September, Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, Dominion Road

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