Malaysia Travel Guide
Mooncake or Mid Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival falls on the 15th day of the Chinese eighth month and is celebrated to signify the end of the harvest season.
As it is associated with paper lanterns, it is also called
the Lantern Festival.
In Malaysia, the Chinese celebrate the festival with family gatherings, prayers, mooncakes and lantern parades by children. Weeks before the festival,
Chinese families present gifts of mooncakes to friends and senior relatives
to foster better ties with them.
On the 15th night when the moon is shining its brightest, offerings of mooncakes, deep fried chicken, roasted pork, water calthrops, yam, water melon seeds and Chinese tea are made to deities and ancestors, on the praying altar. Lighted lanterns are also hung conspicuously in front of homes. Prayers are offered with
the customary lighting of joss-sticks, red candles and golden joss-paper are burnt. After prayers, there is feasting and merry-making with children carrying lighted lanterns around the neighborhood. Here they are sometimes joined by their non-Chinese friends in celebrating with lanterns.
In Kuala Lumpur, the Thean Hou Temple in Robson Heights usually
organises a lantern procession.
History behind the Mooncake Festival
Back during the Soong dynasty when the Chinese were oppressed by the
Mongols, their rebel leaders sought to overthrow the Mongol overlords.
As meetings were banned it was impossible to make plans. Liu Fu Tong of the Anhui Province came up with a plan by requesting permission to distribute cakes
to his friends to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. He made thousands
of cakes shaped like the moon and stuffed with sweet fillings. Inside each cake however was placed a piece of paper with the message: ‘Rise against the Tartars
on the 15th day of the 8th Moon’. Reading the message, the people rose against
the Mongols on a local scale. This rebellion enabled Chu Hung Wu, another rebel leader to eventually overthrow the Mongols. In 1368, he established the Ming dynasty and ruled under the name of Emperor Tai Tsu. Henceforth, the
Mid Autmn Festival was celebrated with mooncakes on a national level.