Moon cakes are eaten during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival in China, a celebration honoring the cycles of the moon and the bounty of the harvest.
The words “moon” and “unity” in Chinese are the same word. The Chinese have an old saying: “Yua yuan ren tuan yuan,” literally: “When moon forms a circle, people unite.”
Much like the American Thanksgiving, it’s been the traditional time for getting together with family and loved ones. The moon cakes that are eaten during this celebration are paste-filled “cakes” that more resemble pies in the texture of their crusts.
The fillings come in a variety of flavors, such as bean paste, melon, duck egg, and minced meats, the most popular being lotus seed paste.
Even though the specific traditions have changed somewhat over the years, the little cakes have been eaten since about 300 A.D.