China / Society

Chinese celebrate Mid-Autumn Day with new take on mooncake

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-09-15 01:34

As Mid-Autumn Day draws near, Chinese people are observing the holiday with new twists on the traditional mooncake.

In southwest China's Sichuan Province, the museum of the pre-historic Sanxingdui Ruins made mooncakes in the shape of its iconic bronze masks.

Some of the 3,000 cakes are the traditional yellow color, while the rest are green and tea-flavored.

The Sanxingdui Ruins in Guanghan City, some 40 kilometers from the provincial capital of Chengdu, are believed to be remnants of the Shu Kingdom that suddenly disappeared some 3,000 years ago. Listed among China's top 10 archaeological findings of the 20th century, the ruins offer strong evidence of the diverse origins of Chinese civilization.

According to Lin Wei who works at the museum, people were calling to ask how to get their hands on the distinctive mooncakes. "Someone even asked, jokingly, if the mooncakes taste like bronze," said Lin.

Lin told Xinhua that the mooncakes are not for sale. "Some of the mooncakes will be given for free to users who have followed our Sina Weibo or WeChat accounts," he said.

Less than ten days after the mooncakes debuted, the museum's Weibo followers had grown by a third to reach 344,763.

Lin is happy with the results.

"We didn't expect so many people to like them," Lin said. "We will make more next year for sale."

"Our stereotype of a museum is a place for serious learning," Lin said. "Now we want to change that and convey our culture through creative products."

In north China's Hebei Province, local civil servants have come up with their own novel mooncake design.

On Wednesday, 35 children in the Gexin community of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, learned to make mooncakes bearing the "socialist core values," a set of ideals advocated by the Communist Party of China.

"Traditionally we inscribe characters on the mooncakes to describe its filling or express blessings," said Shen Jie, a community civil servant. "Then we thought, why not tell children the core values this way to get them interested?"

They ordered a mould with the characters for the core values, including "prosperity and democracy," "civility and harmony" and "freedom and equality."

Children were told stories about Mid-Autumn Day and asked to share their own understanding of socialist core values.

"My child is also a student," said Wu Shouwei, who works in a local pastry shop and taught the children how to make the mooncakes. "The activity is interesting and meaningful."

These mooncakes are also not for sale. "They will be given to elderly people who have no family and those in nursing homes," Shen said.

Even in the remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, people are clamoring for unusual variations on the traditional pastry.

"We made mooncakes with glutinous nut cake as the filling," said Adil Memetura. He and his company made more than 50,000 of the mooncakes, which have completely sold out.

When Adil was young, his father sold glutinous nut cake, or qiegao, for a living. Following in his father's footsteps, Adil founded a company in Changsha in central China's Hunan Province after his college graduation to produce the popular Xinjiang snack.

On Monday, Muslims in China began celebrating Corban Festival, also known as Eid al-Adha or the feast of the sacrifice, a three-day event centered around a large feast of lamb.

"Corban is close to Mid-Autumn Festival this year," Adil said. "We gave out mooncakes to Muslims outside a mosque in Changsha for free, so they could taste the flavor of their hometown."

Mid-Autumn Day, the 15th day of the eighth month on China's lunar calendar, falls on Thursday this year. The festival has been celebrated for more than 3,000 years to mark the harvest during the autumn full moon. It is also an occasion for family gatherings featuring lanterns, solving riddles and, of course, mooncakes.

"We created a big qiegao mooncake that is 718 grams," Adil said. "It is our wish that families can sit around it and share the cake, enjoying their moment together."

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