The most strongly associated myth revolves around an extraordinary archer named Houyi (Hòu Yì), who was awarded an elixir of life. In some versions of the story his beautiful wife Chang’e takes the whole elixir and finds herself, and her jade rabbit, floating all the way to the stars and getting trapped on the moon, forever being known as the Moon Goddess. On that day each year, when the moon is at its fullest, Houyi prepares Change’s favourite food, looks at the full moon and misses her. It later became custom for people to prepare food for family reunions, or miss separated loved ones, on a mid-autumn day under the moonlight.
- In China, the mid autumn festival is associated with many different versions of the Moon Goddess Chang’e myth involving the jade rabbit and immortality pills.
- The whole salted egg yolk in the middle of the moon cake symbolizes the full moon.
- Han Chinese insurgents planned their entire rebellion against the Yuan Mongolian dynasty by stuffing secret messages into mooncakes, counting on the Yuan dynasty’s hatred for the simple dish.
- Mid-Autumn festival is also considered the ‘Chinese Valentines Day’ in ancient times, a tradition rooted in Yue Xia Lao Ren (月下老人) – meaning “the Old Man in the Moon” – a sort of Chinese cupid on the moon.
- In South China, there is a tradition of wearing pamelo rinds on your head so that Chang’e can find you and answer your prayers for a son – the Chinese name for pomelo is “you(4) zi(3)” – 柚子 – which sounds a bit like “to have a son” – 有子 – you(3) zi(3).
- Several countries have issued absolute postal bans on mooncakes, including Singapore, India, Indonesia, Russia, Germany, Spain, France, Thailand and South Korea.
- At the end of each festival, Singapore throws away over 2,000,000 uneaten mooncakes, most being used as gifts and gestures.