Perhaps you’ve seen it before? The streets are filled with people dancing to sets of drums, donning elaborate dragon costumes amidst enormous paper lanterns.If you look even closer, you may notice the delighted looks on the faces of people who appear to be sitting, relaxing, and chatting over some exotic pastry wedges with cups of tea and glasses of wine.Why is everyone so spirited? What’s the joyous occasion? What, in other words, is this all about?
What you are seeing is a ritual that started over a thousand years ago.
It was during the Tang Dynasty that the people in China began eagerly awaiting the first harvest moon in the fall season. It is this day of the year that marks the celebration of the moon goddess Chang’e.
According to legend, Chang’e once splurged on the elixir of life. Brimming with a vivacity that surpassed the most rambunctious of children, Chang’e discovered that she could soar high and far away, reaching even the moon itself. Once she arrived, she chose to remain there forever, accompanied by her trusty jade rabbit and lumberjack.
To inaugurate this sacred and supernatural event, festival practitioners from around the world find ways to indulge on their own elixirs of life — usually fruits, teas, spirits, and especially mooncakes.
This practice has come to be known as the Mid-Autumn or Harvest Moon Festival. It is a holiday that begins on the first full moon in autumn, which is lunar calendar August 15th, continuing the tradition that began long ago during the Tang Dynasty! For those who observe it, this wonderful holiday is second only to the Chinese New Year.
So what in the world is a mooncake, and why is it special?
Invariably accompanied with a good cup of tea, the mooncake is ubiquitous at this time of year. Though a thin-crusted, circular pastry that traditional consists of a dense filling of various seed paste, pork or salted egg yolk, it has been enthusiastically appropriated by culinary experts and lovers of all walks of life.
Today, chefs and families alike have invented their own interpretation of the mooncake, sometimes adding nuts, fruits, or seeds; sometimes filling it with a custard, bean paste, or even pork; and sometimes going as far as creatively enhancing it with flavors such as green tea, chocolate, or stout beer!
But though the mooncake takes center stage, ultimately, this festival is about family and reunion.
People everywhere bake, share, and eat mooncakes while sipping on tea with those closest to us, our dearest family and friends, always as a sign of our appreciation and love for them.
Indeed, the circular shape of the mooncake is supposed to represent not only the fullness of the moon but also the harmonious relationship between nature and family. This is a large part of the reason why a sense of community is so integral to this holiday. The dancing, the drumming, the mooncake indulging, and the fine tea drinking — all of it is meant to be experienced together, with one another.
So come join us at MeiMei Fine Teas by indulging in some amazing tea and treats in celebration of this wonderful occasion!