中秋節 directly translates Middle-Autumn-Festival, hence the name Mid Autumn Festival.
Also known as the Mooncake Festival, Lantern Festival, Mid Autumn Festival is the second biggest holiday in China (after Chinese Lunar New Year) and dates back to the Zhou Dynasty 1046-771 BC, where it is first seen in the Rites of Zhou, a written collection of rituals.
So it's been around for 3000 years, but today, this holiday is mostly a celebrated particularly for mooncakes -- notably the most important food of the Mid Autumn Festival. Here's a cool video of a plant-based mooncake making video
There is a beautiful Chinese legend behind the Mid Autumn festival, which actually celebrates Chang'E who is the Moon Goddess of immortality, and it is said this festival is that honors her once a year.
Falling on the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar, this full-moon symbolizes the moon is at its brightest and fullest size, which coincides with harvest time in the middle of Autumn. it is always on August 15 of the Moon Calendar.
Because the lunar calendar changes every year, you can expect the Mid Autumn Festival on these days in the coming years:
In the ancient times, a Chinese hero named Hou Yi was asked to protect the local village against a violent natural disaster. One of the immortal spirits gifted Hou Yi with an elixir of immortality for his efforts. Hou Yi didn't want to leave his wife, Chang'E, so he asked her to protect the elixir.
One night, when Hou Yi left to go hunting, his brother Peng Meng, went to his home to steal the elixir. He tried to break into their home in the middle of the night but found Chang'e at home protecting the elixir. Peng Meng forced her to give the elixir to him and Chang'e refused to do so. Afraid of the elixir getting into the wrong hands, she swallowed it and immediately flew into the sky. It is said she chose the moon for her residence.
When Hou Yi returned, he was deeply saddened by this news. He started to offer fruits and cakes to the heavenly ancestors in an effort to bring her back. Many in his village learned about his story and joined him in giving these sacrifices to the heavens to help Hou Yi reunite with Chang'e again. This is said to be the origin of Lunar worship, or the moon festival.
The mid Autumn festival is a special time to meet family, eat round foods, and admire the moon in her fullest bloom. Growing up, mooncake festival time meant eating mooncakes - an exciting surprise in edible form. It is tradition I always looked forward to during mid Autumn Festival.
Amongst Chinese families, gifting mooncakes between friends and close relatives is pretty common around this time, which is why this holiday is also sometimes referred to as the Moon Festival.
Eat mooncake: if you only do one thing during mid Autumn festival, it's that you must eat mooncake.
Not to be confused with a "space-cake", mooncakes are made with a wheat flour pastry containing a sweet paste made of adzuki bean, lotus seeds, fruits, and/or egg. The ingredients used to make this contains TCM herbal ingredients which include oleic acid, linoleic acid, minerals, zinc, iron, potassium, vitamin E and other ingredients which help soften blood vessels to supply the body with Qi after eating. (TCM is everywhere!)
2. Glutinous rice cakes: this is a staple to many Chinese families.
For thousands of years, the broad masses of people have forced a profound friendship with it, and the stickiness indicates harmony and unity of the whole family. And since you're going to be with family during this Moon Festival, it's important to keep this on the menu too!
3. Stop and smell the Osthmanthus: this is a time when its in full bloom, and many who live in Shanghai will pick the flowers to make glutinous rice and osthmanthus stuffed sweet wine. Not just for for floral wine, but this is also wonderful in tea or cook this as a fragrant ingredient added to any dish.
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My earliest memories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began in the living room of my childhood home, where my dad, Dr. Sun, held his first Acupuncture space. At a young age, I saw the myriad of herbs he would pull together for his patients. Our basement was an apothecary, our kitchen filled with my pieces from my Operator set, and the living room served patients. After immigrating to New York City from Shanghai in the 1970s, my parents, like many other immigrants of New York, left everything they ever knew, to build a brand new life from scratch.
As a first generation American-born-Chinese kid growing up in NYC, it was hard to understand why my parents didn't pack me Capri-suns and Fig Newtons in my lunchbox. Instead of letting me wear short-shorts and slurp Ralph's Italian ices all Summer long, I was taught to always drinking warm water no matter what, make sure my feet were never freezing cold, and to listen to my body and treat it well.
While having practiced Chinese Medicine for a lifetime with my dad, it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly started to feel like I wanted to step into this world and be a champion of this beautiful, complex, and deeply connected world of ancient healing and wisdom. My friends and family were all beginning to seek holistic and alternative forms of health, and they would come to me and I would send them to my dad.
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I am making a step towards building a lineage of Traditional Healers and continuing the legacy that my dad, Dr. Sun, has created. This is inspired by a life long learning of my own culture and heritage that came thousands of years before me. And together we will learn, appreciate, and share the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Welcome to a world of inspiration: here to teach you how to listen to your body, feed it what it needs, and give you the tools to understand how to rebalance the yin to your yang with everyday foods.
Modern Chinese Wellness, from my family to yours.