The what, where, when and why of one of the biggest festivals in Asia
Like K-Pop and selfie sticks, the Moon Festival is big in Asia.
Marking the end of the autumn harvest, and coinciding with the equinox – the day of the year when daylight and darkness are at an equal length – the Moon Festival is known as the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and as the Trung Thu Festival in Vietnam.
The origins of the Moon Festival date back thousands of years to the Shang dynasty, where rulers believed that worshipping the moon in autumn would bring bountiful harvests and prosperity for the coming year.
These days, it’s more about harvesting delicious snacks - namely moon cakes - and gifting them to friends and family to bring luck, health and happiness for the year ahead.
These round, surprisingly hefty pastries are filled with lotus seed or red bean paste but are also commonly available in black bean, taro, lychee, mung bean and coconut flavours.
Due to the enormous popularity of macadamias as gifts in Asia, not to mention their undeniable deliciousness, high-end bakeries have also started adding macadamias to moon cakes for a touch of luxury and crunch. Macadamias - previously perceived throughout Asia as just a tasty chocolate covered treat - are now being increasingly recognised as a health food, as the positive benefits of tree nuts on heart health, blood sugar and brain function become more widely known.
China is currently the number one export market for Australian macadamias and the Moon Festival is now reflecting the growing adoption of, and taste for, our special native nut. Macadamias are even being offered in the legendary mooncakes at Raffles Hotel in Singapore, a true sign of their accepted inclusion in this traditional fare.
You don’t have to travel to Asia to enjoy the festive atmosphere of Moon Festival; you can experience it right here in Australia, especially in the south-western Sydney suburb of Cabramatta.
Known for its large Vietnamese population, not to mention its great shopping and wonderfully authentic eateries, Cabramatta attracts upwards of 90,000 visitors during the annual Moon Festival. The day-long celebration includes a lion-dance parade, musical performances, acrobatics, traditional dance performances and a spectacular fireworks display.
Food is an equally important aspect of Cabramatta's celebrations, and alongside the many outlets offering the ubiquitous moon cake, food stalls line the streets, offering the many and varied tastes of Vietnam, China and the rest of Asia, to hungry festival-goers.
If you can't make it to Cabramatta, look out for one of the many other Moon Festival celebrations held throughout Australia. Or why not try making your own macadamia filled mooncakes to celebrate with family and friends – blogger
The 2017 Cabramatta Moon Festival will be held on Sunday the 24th of September from 11am to 8pm.