107 - Mooncake - a Chinese treat

By Mary Luz Mejia
October 5, 2005

Pumpkin or apple pie may conjure images of button-popping Canadian Thanksgiving get-togethers, but around that time of year, the Chinese and Taiwanese celebrate for other reasons with their traditional mooncakes.

Given and received in honour of the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes are often palm-sized pastries made with fillings including red bean or lotus seed paste, nuts and Chinese dates. The Jin Cheng Bakery in Chinatown offers over 21 flavours and makes these beautifully crafted cakes with pride.

The shape of choice during the festival is the circle - it represents unity, reunion, and the one night of the year (the 15th day of the eighth lunar month) when the moon appears perfectly round.
Many cakes also contain a bright yellow duck egg in the middle, symbolizing the brilliant, round autumn moon.

So why all the fuss about little cakes and a full moon? Legend has it that when China was overrun by Mongol invaders, clandestine messages were inserted into the cakes and, since the Mongols didn't eat these treats, instructions were successfully sent to patriots who joined the struggle that ended in liberation.

Apart from being historically symbolic, the giving and receiving of moon cakes during the festival is also about fortifying relationships, both with family and friends.

The circle, with no beginning and no end, is the perfect shape to represent the promise of abundance, harmony and good luck. It's also the ideal form for a sweet treat that brings with it both flavour and the foretelling of good fortune.

Jin Cheng Bakery
419 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 596-8878