Let’s Talk Mid-Autumn Festival (and Moon Cakes) - West Coast Food

By VisitRichmondBC.com

Around this time every year, Richmond grocery stores and bakeries are filled with towers of small, round cakes in fancy boxes and festive packaging. This is because we’re approaching the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important annual festivals in Chinese culture, right after Chinese New Year.

Celebrated among people from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is typically celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese lunar month every year. This year, it lands on September 24.

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The Mid-Autumn Festival is always celebrated on a day that coincides with a full moon. Ancient Chinese emperors worshipped the sun in the spring and moon in autumn, as they believed that the practice would bring them a plentiful harvest the next year. The practice entailed placing a large table in the middle of the yard under the moon, where offerings such as apples, plums, grapes and incense were offered to the moon. Moon cakes and pomelos were the most essential offerings, though. The pomelo’s skin is sometimes sliced and opened up into a lotus shape when offered as a sacrifice.

Strawberry cheese moon cake from Saint Germain Bakery |image courtesy of Saint Germain Bakery
Strawberry cheese moon cake from Saint Germain Bakery |image courtesy of Saint Germain Bakery

What’s the tradition and connection with moon cakes?

In Chinese culture, roundness symbolizes completeness and togetherness. A full moon symbolizes prosperity and reunion for the whole family. Round moon cakes complement the harvest moon in the night sky at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a special occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, light up lanterns and eat moon cakes. They’re usually eaten in small wedges during the Festival and nowadays people present moon cakes to relatives and friends to demonstrate that they wish them a long and happy life.

Image courtesy of VisitRichmondBc.com
Image courtesy of VisitRichmondBc.com

What are the tastiest kinds of moon cake?

A typical moon cake is a round-shaped pastry with a thin-crust skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling of paste such as sweet bean, lotus seed, taro or a mixture of nuts and seeds. A favourite is a whole salted egg yolk placed in the centre of a moon cake, which also symbolizes the full moon. Moon cakes can also be savoury with fillings such as ham, pork floss, and seafood (abalone and seaweed).

Where to get moon cakes in Richmond

There are a wide range of beautifully wrapped, packaged moon cakes for sale nearly one month prior to the actual festival day. You can find great selections of moon cakes in local Asian supermarkets and bakeries. Some Chinese restaurants also make their own.

Here are a few recommendations:

Kam Do Bakery – 6211 No. 3 Rd., Richmond
Kirin Restaurant – 7900 Westminster Hwy, Richmond
Kuo Hua – 4551 No 3 Rd. #120, Richmond
La Patisserie – 6360 No 3 Rd., Richmond
Maple Castella Bakery – 8700 McKim Way, Richmond
Maxim’s Bakery – 6060 Minoru Blvd., Richmond
Neptune Seafood Restaurant – 8171 Ackroyd Rd #110, Richmond
Pine House Bread and Cake Shop – 4380 No 3 Rd., Richmond
Saint Germain Bakery – Aberdeen Centre · 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
T&T Supermarket/Osaka Supermarket – 3700 No. 3 Rd., #1000

Where to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Richmond

Richmond has several celebratory Mid-Autumn events taking place on Saturday, September 22 or Sunday, September 23, click here for more information.


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