Sunday, August 22, 2010

By the Light of the Silvery Moon...

 Prelude to Water Melody
~ Su Shi, Poet

by Su Tung Po

When will the moon be clear and bright?
With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the blue sky.
I don't know what season it would be in the heavens on this night.

I'd like to ride the wind to fly home.
Yet I fear the crystal and jade mansions are much too high and cold for me.

Dancing with my moon-lit shadow,
It does not seem like the human world.
The moon rounds the red mansion stoops to silk-pad doors, Shines upon the sleepless bearing no grudge,

Why does the moon tend to be full when people are apart?
People may have sorrow or joy, be near or far apart,
The moon may be dim or bright, wax or wane,
This has been going on since the beginning of time.
May we all be blessed with longevity.
Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together

September 22 begins the celebration of the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Its history dates back 2000 years. It is traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunisolar month. The festival is the second most important festival after the Spring Festival to the Chinese people. The full moon is a symbol of peace and prosperity for the whole family, symbolizing wholeness and togetherness.

"This is a day to worship the moon god. According to folk legend, this day is also the birthday of the earth god (T'u-ti Kung) and a day to worship the moon god.  People express their gratitude to heaven (represented by the moon) and earth (symbolized by the earth god) for the blessings they have enjoyed over the past year.

The Chinese believe in praying to the moon god for protection, family unity, and good fortune. On this day, the moon is at its roundest and brightest. This is also a time for lovers to tryst and pray for togetherness, symbolized by the roundness of the moon. Unlike most other Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a low-key holiday, characterized by peace and elegance." Learn more about this beautiful festival at


You won’t have to search the stars for folktales celebrating the beautiful moon!

Legend of the Lady in the Moon - China 

The Lady of the Moon
- China

A Coat for the Moon – Jewish

How the Great Chief Made the Moon and the Sun – Native American

How the Moon Became Beautiful – China
Found in The Gold Path Reader, published in 1912; now available through Google books.

The Moon and the Great Snake – Native American

Moonflower - Japan

Sun, Moon and Talia – Italy

Why the Sun and the Stars Receive Their Light from the Sun - Africa


In the evenings, children carry lanterns of all shapes and sizes. The bearing of lanterns and the origin of mooncakes date back to a 14th century revolt by the Chinese against the Mongols.

Make your own Chinese Lantern


"During the Yuan Dynasty (1280 A.D - 1368 A.D), China was ruled by the Mongols. The Mongols did not eat mooncakes and the Chinese were quick to take advantage of that. They found an innovative way of coordinating the revolt. Leaders of the revolt distributed the mooncakes among the common people under the pretext of celebrating the Emperor's long life. Each mooncake had an outline of the attack baked within its skin. The secret message informed the people to revolt on the 15th of the 8th moon (also the Autumn Moon festival). On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Since then the mooncakes became a national tradition of China."

  • Mooncakes are also known as "reunion cakes" as family members gather to partake of the sweet confectionery.
  • Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. Imprints of a moon, a woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit may surround the characters for additional decoration.
  • They are eaten throughout the month before the actual festival day.
  • During the Qing dynasty, mooncakes were renamed "moonflowers".
  • The Empress Dowager Ci Xi staged rituals for an elaborate moon festival lasting from the 13th through the 17th day of the eighth lunar month.
  • Some Chinese families today still stay up late to observe the occasion eating mooncakes, sipping tea and gazing at the beautiful moon. It is regarded the perfect moment if someone catches the moon's reflection in the centre of his or her teacup.
  • During the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD), moon cakes were also called “small cakes” and “moon balls.”

Easy to Make Chinese Moon Cakes

1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup strawberry (or your favorite) jam (traditionally red bean paste is used so if you want a more authentic version, you can use a can of red bean paste instead of the jam).

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk and stir.
  • Mix in the flour.
  • Form the dough into one large ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate dough for half an hour.
  • Unwrap the chilled dough and form small balls in the palms of your hand. 
  • Make a hole with your thumb in the center of each mooncake and fill with about half a teaspoon of jam.
  • Brush each cake with the other beaten egg yolk and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Karen Chace 2010 ©

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This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.


evita said...

How lovely of you to share this. We are heading for Spring over here in the Southern parts of this Mother Earth. evita

Cindy said...

Mrs. Chase,
I love your newsletter! It is always packed with wonderful ideas. Thank you for sharing the story sack. What a wonderful gift to give to children of all ages!
I am in the process of preparing a "Teacher's Survival Kit" to present to my daughter's teacher next week at open house. Thank you for sharing your incredible gift of Stories with us and for sharing all these great useful sites.
Cindy Souza

Karen Chace said...

Hi Cindy,

Thank you for your lovely comments. You have added a smile to my day. I am sure your child's teacher will be delighted by your thoughtfulness.
Please let me know what she says; it will be grand to share in the fun.

Warm wishes,