Known elsewhere around the world as the Mid-Autumn Festival, Lantern Festival, or Zhongqiu Festival, the Mooncake Festival in Malaysia is a celebration of unity and familial harmony. With origins that are believed to be rooted in the tradition of making sacrifices to the Moon Goddess for a bountiful year’s end harvest, the modern incarnation offers a chance for revelers to savor extremely sweet mooncakes and share them with relatives, bosses, customers, friends, and newfound acquaintances in a display of generosity and inclusion.
The cakes themselves consist of a thin crust that is made with the yokes of salted duck eggs and is adorned with decorative designs. They contain a thick filling that is typically made from red bean or lotus seed paste (and naturally, lots of sugar). Luckily, these delicacies are so popular that they are available year round, so you’ll be able to sample them even if you miss out on the main event.
Along with the aforementioned sweets, celebrants indulge in deep fried chicken, roasted pork, yam, and other savory items. Watermelon seeds and Chinese tea are offered upon altars out of respect to deities and ancestors, as well as joss-sticks, red candles, and golden joss-paper. There are candles lit in front of most homes and there are various parades of children carrying lighted lanterns around most neighborhoods.
The festival is celebrated on the 8th moon, 15th day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, meaning that it alternates between September and October (for 2012, the precise date is September 30).