Mid Autumn Mooncake Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival is also called Mooncake Festival, because of the tradition of eating mooncakes during the celebrations. The festival is the second biggest traditional celebration after Chinese New Year in China.
The official calendar in China is the same as the rest as the world. Also the Chinese have a traditional calendar which is a luni-solar calendar. The Moons cycles determine years, months and days.
The traditional calendar still determines the date of traditional Chinese celebrations. Because it uses lunar cycles the exact date of the celebrations changes each year.
The moon festival will be on the 15th day of the eighth month in the traditional Chinese calendar. This is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar used here in the UK.
On this day the moon is at its fullest and brightest. Also a time considered the best to harvest rice. So Families and friends would traditionally come together to celebrate the seasons harvest.
Today Mid Autumn festival is still a time when families and friends come together. It is a public holiday in China. A big part of the festival is carrying lit lanterns. The most symbolic modern tradition is sharing and eating mooncakes.
There are many variations of the mooncake across Asia. The most popular Chinese mooncakes today given and eaten during mooncake festival often look similar but the fillings vary.
The cakes are approximately 3-4 inches in diameter although much larger ones are also available. And around half as high as they are wide. They are a heavy cake both in terms of weight and being very filling. Dense fillings in a medium thickness tender and chewy crust pastry case. Also the top of the cakes will have messages written in the pastry. The Chinese bakery I visited had two different filling available. Lotus paste or red bean paste.
These are two of the most popular worldwide. However in other Asian countries there are different variations. And in China there are regional variations and styles. Also egg yolks in the middle of mooncakes is a popular luxury variation.
Today I visited the kowloon bakery London. Situated near one end of London’s Chinatown it is a very popular bakery, cafe and restaurant. The building is separated in two. A bakery and cafe on one side and a buffet restaurant on the other. The Bakery cakes are on display in the store window. When you enter you place your order at the front for take away and then pay the cashier or take a seat in the cafe at the rear to eat in.
Chinatown sits between Leicester Square and Soho. The main thoroughfare is Gerard Street.
The main streets are pedestrianised and always bustling with people. And a steady flow of porters with pallets and trolleys full of Asian supplies for the supermarkets constantly coming and going.
The shops, street signs and street furniture is all inspired by Chinese design. Filled with Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and tea shops. As a result the whole area looks, feels and smells like a small taste of Asia in the heart of London. Many of the stores now represent many Asian nations not only China.
Chinatown is a focal point for London’s Chinese community and British Chinese at times of celebration. Decorated with lanterns and street art during festivals, Chinese New Year celebrations and Mooncake festival.
Also Taiwanese bubble tea stores are incredibly popular right now. Also many tourists captivated by the incredibly photographic street often stop for a few pictures and something to eat.
Dates for Mid-Autumn / mooncake festival:
- 2016: September 15 (Thursday)
- 2017: October 4 (Wednesday)
- 2018: September 24 (Monday)
- 2019: September 13 (Friday)
- 2020: October 1 (Thursday)
- 2021: September 21 (Tuesday)
- 2022: September 10 (Saturday)
Check out my visit to London’s Chinatown for Chinese New Year