Chinatown Mall – Duncan St – Fortitude Valley
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Valley Moon Lantern Festival
Join in the celebrations this Saturday when Brisbane’s Chinatown stages the Chinese Moon Festival, an important date in the Chinese lunar calendar. Traditionally held in mid-Autumn (in China anyway) when the moon is at its fullest, the festival is linked to the legends of Chang’e the mythical moon goddess and is celebrated with brightly lit lanterns, mooncakes and more.
Festivities in the Valley include market stalls, martial arts demonstrations, lion and dragon dances, puppetry performances, 3D lanterns and a Chinese festival favourite – fire crackers. Enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine at one of Chinatown’s restaurants and do try a mooncake; a Chinese treat, traditionally filled with lotus seed or red bean paste, the mooncake is an indispensable delicacy during the Moon Festival. Free moon cakes wil be given away to a luck few throughout the festivities and for a range of delicious Asian eats pull up a seat at one of the Chinatown Mall restaurants, which will be open throughout the evening.
Tết Trung Thu (tet-troong-thoo) is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest. In the northern hemisphere this is in autumn, when rice is harvested before winter. Some people say that because the moon is full, the festival is a celebration and prayer for the fullness and completeness of life. Others believe the festival is to remind the sun to come back after winter, because without the sun the rice will not grow. It is also a children’s festival. In Vietnam children make processions carrying lanterns, which they have bought or made themselves. It is always celebrated at night because the light is important.
The purpose of Trung-Thu Festival is to promote Vietamese culture, education, innovative ideas, music, sports, arts and crafts and poetry to young people. The sights that will be seen are captivating panorama with the children’s lantern procession, colourful shows, songs and dances.
The moon and this special festival still fascinates both adults and children. Its craters seem to change to animals, beautiful ladies and mountain tops. The full moon is a time when the dark places of night are lit with bright lanterns, creating a rainbow of colour, movement and fun.
It is a time for happy, laughing children at lantern parades enjoying an evening sweetened with lotus-paste filled moon cakes. At every Mid-Autumn Moon Festival time stands still and adults are children once more. The moon conjures magic and recalls legends, precious legacies of the past. This is a time when along with the offerings to the lady in the moon, neighbours and friends exchange gifts in a happy renewal of friendship and lovers renew vows with romantic trysts in the moonlight.
There is a favourite story told during the Moon Festival about Thằng Cuội the buffalo boy and the moon.
Thằng Cuội had a magic tree that could restore life. He always reminded his wife to water it with clean water because it could not be exposed to anything dirty. One day she forgot to water it before Thằng Cuội returned, so instead she urinated on it. Immediately it began to grow and grow. Thằng Cuội tried to chop it down with his axe, but he got caught in it and it kept growing until it reached the moon, taking him with it. Now you can look up at the moon and see Thằng Cuội sitting at the foot of his tree.
Moon Cakes (Bánh Trung Thu)
Moon Cakes (Bánh Trung Thu) are a sweet specialty found throughout Vietnam in mid-autumn. If a cake is perfectly made, one can finish the entire treat without feeling bloated. If not, then even one slice can seem too much. The recipe determines how delicious, rich of soft a cake is and how long it will last without spoiling.
Most mooncakes consist of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling. The mooncake may contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. Very rarely, mooncakes are also served steamed or fried.
Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and the filling in the moon cake. Imprints of the moon, the Chang’e woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit (symbol of the moon) may surround the characters for additional decoration.