Rhonda Parkinson / About.com Chinese Food Guide
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake festival) falls on September 19 this year.
The festival, one of my favorites, is steeped in history and tradition. It's simple really: buy an overpriced mooncake and enjoy it under a full moon with someone you love.
Exchanging mooncakes is thought to date back over 3,000 years, and no one is certain how it all started. One legend suggests that the date of a planned coup against Mongol occupiers in the Yuan Dynasty was written on paper and placed inside of mooncakes which were then distributed throughout the populace.
The enemy wouldn't eat them, so it was a way to ensure that only Chinese got the message. The Mongols were overthrown on the day of the festival.
- Read more about the history of the Chinese Moon Festival.
Historical or not, it doesn't matter. The Chinese Moon Festival has now become a heavily commercialized holiday celebrated throughout the world. Some of the incredibly beautiful and heavy mooncakes sell for more than US $90, depending on the filling. If you really want to impress your date, some gold-encrusted mooncakes go for over US $1,000!
Some mooncakes are prepared with lard and contain more calories than the average Big Mac.
I'll probably stick to the smaller, three-dollar variety sold at my local 7-11 minimart. Regardless, the Chinese Moon Festival is about sitting with someone special and taking the time to appreciate an autumn moon before nights begin to get too chilly.
A romantic concept, but hopefully that dense, sweet cake doesn't put too much of a damper on the rest of your date.