Mooncake Festival – A Day Filled with Culture and Traditions
BY: Michelle Liew
The Mooncake Festival (中秋节 – zhōng qiū jié), also known as Mid-Autumn Festival or Lantern Festival, is a significant cultural celebration in Malaysia. It is a time when families and communities come together to celebrate the harvest season, enjoy mooncakes, and partake in various activities that pay homage to tradition and folklore.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Mooncake Festival in Malaysia is its ability to foster unity among the diverse ethnic communities that call the country home. Malaysia is known for its multicultural and multi-ethnic society, with Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous groups coexisting harmoniously. The Mooncake Festival is a testament to this harmony as it transcends cultural boundaries.
The Mooncake Festival has a long history in Malaysia, with its origins tracing back over a thousand years to ancient China. It is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which typically falls in September or early October. The festival was introduced to Malaysia through the migration of Chinese communities, who brought their customs and traditions with them.
Mooncakes: Mooncakes are the star of the festival. These round pastries symbolize unity and completeness, making them an essential part of the celebration. Mooncakes come in a variety of flavours and fillings, including lotus seed paste, red bean paste, and salted egg yolks. The current generation have even come up with snowskin （冰皮 – Bīng pí） mooncake and ice cream mooncake. They often feature intricate designs on their crusts, showcasing the artistry of Malaysian bakers.
Lanterns: Colourful lanterns of various shapes and sizes adorn the streets and homes during the festival. Children and adults alike carry lanterns with different designs, creating a vibrant and magical atmosphere after sunset.
Reunion Dinners: Families use the Mooncake Festival as an opportunity to come together for a special reunion dinner. These meals typically feature a spread of traditional Chinese dishes and mooncakes, and they provide a time for family bonding and reflection.
Cultural Performances: In Malaysia, the Mooncake Festival is not limited to the Chinese community. Malaysians of all backgrounds participate in cultural performances, such as dragon and lion dances, traditional Chinese music, and martial arts demonstrations, showcasing the country's multicultural spirit.
Moon Gazing: It is customary to gaze at the full moon during the festival. The moon is considered a symbol of unity and harmony, and families often sit outdoors, sipping tea and enjoying mooncakes while admiring the moon's beauty.