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MOON CAKES (updated)
Dear Hakka Friends,
Happy Moon Festival
The Moon Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋節 ) is of great significance to the
Chinese. Central to the festival is the traditional decoration, display of
lanterns and the making and consumption of moon cakes. The tradition dates
back many centuries.
In 1280AD the Mongols came from northern China and destroyed the Song
Dynasty ( 宋朝 960AD to 1280AD). They established the Yuan Dynasty
(元朝1280AD to1368AD). The Mongols treated the northern Han-Chinese as 3rd
class citizens and the southern Han-Chinese, 4th class citizens.
Han-Chinese were oppressed, suppressed, maltreated, persecuted, generally
ill-treated and regarded as nothing more than slaves.
The Han-Chinese had had enough of hardship under the Mongols. During the
years between 1348AD to 1353AD many groups of people were organized
throughout the country for the sole of fostering rebellion against the
Mongols: Fang Guo Zhen (方國珍 in Zhejiang (浙江) province; Liu Fu Tong
(劉福通) in Anhui (安徽) province; Li Er (李二) in Jiangsu (江蘇)
province; Guo Zi Xing (郭子興) and Zhu Yuan Zhang (朱元璋) in Hao Zhou
(濠州) Zhejiang, Zhang Shi Cheng (張士誠), who alter surrended to the
Mongols, in Jiangsu and many others in other parts of the country.
In the beginning, rebel leader, Liu Fu Tong, a priest of White Lotus Sect,
could not find a secret place to convene a meeting with his followers as
all Han-Chinese were kept under very strict surveillance. Han-Chinese were
not allowed to convene any meetings and any gathering of people was
forbidden. Liu tried to set a date for an uprising against the District
Officer in Ying Zhou (穎州 present day Fu Yang 曲陽city in Anhui
province), but there was no way he could meet his followers. It was around
mid-Autumn in 1351AD and the moon would, in a few days, be very round, big
Liu finally devised an ingenious plan. He sought the permission of the
Mongol District Officer to allow him to give gifts to friends as a
symbolic gesture to bless the longevity of the Mongol Emperor, Shun Di
(順帝) who reigned from 1333AD to 1388AD). The District Officer gladly
agreed as it would after all be an occasion to celebrate the long reign of
the Yuan Dynasty.
Liu made a great quantity of sweet round cakes shaped like the full moon
which he called Moon Cakes. Inside each of the sweet cake he inserted a
piece of paper with the words, "Kill the Tartars on the night of 15th of
the 8th moon". He gave every household a cake with the instruction that it
should be eaten only on the night of 15th of the 8th moon.
When the appointed night arrived the Han-Chinese started to cut and eat
their cakes. They were surprised to discover the clandestine messages
inside the cakes calling them to arms. During that night all the Mongols,
including the District Officer, in Ying Zhou were killed. Thus Liu Fu Tong
laid the foundation stone for rebellion against the Mongols.
The man who eventually exterminated the Yuan Dynasty was Zhu Yuan Zhang.
He established the Ming Dynasty (明朝 1368AD to 1644AD). To commemorate
and celebrate the event of the night of 15th of the 8th moon in 1351AD the
tradition of making and eating the round sweet cakes (Moon Cakes) was born
and carried on by Chinese in almost every part of the world.
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan email@example.com
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.