In China and other Chinese nations, the Mid-Autumn Festival—better known as Mooncake Festival in the Philippines—is remembered on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. This important celebration has an incredibly rich foundation and history that deserves more attention. While commercialism and modernity may have diminished its importance, Polland Hopia aims to uphold its essence.
A beginner’s guide to Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival has been observed for more than 3,000 years. The annual remembrance began in the Shang Dynasty (16th to 10th BC) to celebrate favorable harvest throughout the autumn full moon. It was then cemented during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) as a festival. In the Yuan Dynasty, the Chinese began gifting mooncakes.
There are various stories about the Festival, with a few being more popular than others. Legends about Chang’e, the Goddess of the Moon; the Jade Rabbit; and the Rebellion against the Mongols are among the most prominent ones. Nowadays, these are rarely talked about, albeit mentioned during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Much like any other cultural celebration, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a strong reason to meet with family, friends, workmates, and classmates. For some families, the festival is a motivation to gather loved ones from all over the world. Communities come together during this festival to dine with one another, exchange stories, and engage in a series of the Mooncake Dice Game.
Celebrations across Chinese nations
Modern celebrations across Chinese nations derive from the remembrance originated in the Tang Dynasty, involving lanterns. The festive lanterns have been known to symbolize light, luck, and togetherness. Celebrations involve making lanterns, gazing at the moon, hanging lanterns in homes and trees, and releasing sky lanterns. Many head out to watch public lantern displays, earning the celebration another name: Lantern Festival. According to tradition, families celebrating the festival are to write riddles on lanterns for members to solve. Lanterns are often shaped like animals, flowers, and plants. In China, the celebration is a public holiday that spans three days.
Neighboring countries with strong Chinese communities like Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival with their own local twists. They observe the festival by watching dragon dances and lighting lanterns. While it isn’t a public holiday in these countries, Chinese citizens celebrate the festival the same day as in China.
Celebration among members of the Fil-Chi community
Each year, the Filipino-Chinese community celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival. It is one of two celebrations the Fil-Chi community remembers, with the other being the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. The Dice Game is a popular activity among members of the Fil-Chi community during the Mooncake Festival.
Mooncake for all
Filipinos are used to receiving mooncakes from Fil-Chi friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival, even when many know little about the legends behind the celebration and the snack. To bridge the gap between traditional Chinese celebrations and Filipino iterations of the remembrance, Polland Hopia offers ornate mooncakes that come in Yellow Mongo, Black Mongo, Lotus Seed, Mixed Nuts, and Ube flavors. All with a duck egg yolk center, mooncakes from Polland Hopia make excellent traditional gifts for the season. Should you and your family be up for something fun, Polland Hopia also offers the “Huego“ or Dice Game Set that includes its iconic flaky crust hopia that comes in various sizes—the tiniest one being the lowest prize, while the largest piece being the major prize. While winning the largest piece (Chong Wan) is tough, the game is enjoyable for people of all ages.