People in different parts of China have different ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. But one traditional custom has definitely remained and is shared by all the Chinese. This is eating the festive specialty: cakes shaped like the moon.
Moon Cake is the ubiquitous fare at any celebration of this traditional festival, not only because of its delicious taste and charming looking, but also for the cultural and artistic connotation. Nowadays, moon cakes with their various flavors and delicate packaging actually have become a kind of artwork. People can also get artistic pleasure while enjoying the food.
Moon cakes are round pastries that are about an inch in height. Inside, they are filled with lotus seeds, red bean paste, orange peel, melon seeds, ham, dried flower petals, and salted duck's egg yolk. The surface of the food is patterned with clouds, the moon, and the rabbit.
It symbolizes the reunions of families and couples. The exchanging of gifts during the mid autumn festival is one of the hospitable custom and lovers would also give moon cakes as presents to show their passions.
The custom of eating moon cakes can be dated back to thousand of years ago, boasting a close relationship with Chinese culture and history. In Chinese ancient literary history, a considerable number of poets and intellectuals created many classic poems and articles about the Mid-Autumn Festival and Moon Cakes. In Chinese fairy tales, there lived on the moon the fairy Chang'er, a wood cutter named Wu Gang and a jade rabbit which is Chang'er's pet. In the old days, people paid respect to the fairy Chang'er on the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Source: Confucius Institute On-line