The full moon is a time when the dark places of night are lit with bright lanterns, creating a rainbow of colour, movement and fun.
It is a time for happy, laughing children at lantern parades enjoying an evening sweetened with lotus-paste filled moon cakes. At every Mid-Autumn Moon Festival time stands still and adults are children once more. The moon conjures magic and recalls legends, precious legacies of the past. This is a time when along with the offerings to the lady in the moon, neighbours and friends exchange gifts in a happy renewal of friendship and lovers renew vows with romantic trysts in the moonlight. The lanterns children used to carry in the past were simply designed fish, rabbits and globes, all bright red with bamboo candle holders.
Moon cakes are circular like the full moon, symbolic of the never ending cycle of life which encloses yin and yang. The food served at the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is sweet feminine food. Sometimes there are tiny yams (taro), steamed or boiled and rolled in sugar, sugared melon strips dunked in malt sugar and served with sweetened taro.
Moon cakes have grown into status symbols today. In times gone by they were round, surrounded by soft lard pastries, and stuffed with melon seeds, chestnuts and egg yolk to symbolise the moon. You had to pick through the nuts to get to the sweet lotus paste. Today they come in squares, rabbit shapes, lotus shapes all packed in beautiful wrappers and containers.