If October ends with Halloween, well this 2020, the month begins with another special celebration called the Mooncake Festival! Ever heard of it? Well, of course you have, if your family is Chinese-American or of Chinese ethnicity. But for others, on October 1st this year, many Asian cultures will be marking the Mid-Autumn Festival—also known as the Mooncake Festival.
Mid-autumn is the day when the moon is at its fullest and brightest in the night sky. So Chinese and other Asian families have a great time moon-watching, lighting up paper lanterns, and exchanging and eating mooncakes! Family reunions are another big tradition on this occasion, symbolized by the roundness and fullness of the moon. But even if you can’t get together just yet, fun family activities at home can make this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival just as meaningful. Read on! (*this post contains affiliate links)
Books on the Mooncake Festival for Family Reading Time
Parents, if you want to pass on the magic of this occasion to your children, reading picture books together is a wonderful way to do that. Great for teachers to use in the classroom, too!
Here are our book choices, all available on Amazon.
Fun Family Crafts to Make for the Mooncake Festival
Creating crafts together is another enjoyable way to teach kids about the festival’s traditions. Whether to decorate the house, use for playtime (or as school projects), or even give as gifts, here are our finds to choose from.
We’ll get to the actual edible mooncakes in the next section. But what fun it would be for your kids to create these pretty playdough mooncakes (1) we found on Chalk Academy! From a recipe for homemade playdough, the pastel-colored dough is then shaped using plastic hand-press mooncake molds (easier for children to handle) or natural wooden mooncake molds.
For a more complex family project, consider these lovely "mooncake" bath bombs (2) from Crayons and Cravings, also made with mooncake molds. A wonderful gift idea for Mom, Grandma, teacher, or neighbors even beyond the Mid-Autumn Festival!
Light up the occasion with DIY paper lanterns (3) like these super-simple ones from Babyccino Kids. The basic structure is easy to copy, and how clever that they used gold ric-rac for handles and snippets of gold doilies as fancy stick-ons!
These cardboard frame lanterns with colored panes (4) we found on Victoria Education Group (China) look like they came as kits. But you can certainly use them for inspiration, and let your little ones personalize their lanterns with artwork, doodles and greetings!
Or a third option would be to mimic these easy stamped paper lanterns (5) from Three Minute Montessori. Look for rubber stamps with Chinese characters or floral and animal designs, and stamp these on sheets of paper or on ready-made paper bags. Then, punch holes for LED lights to shine through and provide chopstick handles to carry the lanterns around!
Festival Treats: Traditional Mooncakes & More!
What exactly is a mooncake? It’s a rich pastry typically filled with sweet-bean or lotus-seed paste, and often salted duck egg, enclosed in a delicate, flaky crust. So, we start with a traditional recipe in honor of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Then, we offer fascinating variations we found, too!
1 – Easy Mooncake recipe – Filled with the traditional red bean paste, this recipe from Multicultural Kid Blogs is simple enough to have your children pitch in.
2 – Mini Pumpkin Mooncakes – Guess what takes the place of traditional mooncake filling in this recipe from Thirsty for Tea? Pumpkin loaf crumbs bound with pumpkin butter, then chocolate chips popped in for a surprise. Perfect for an autumn occasion, right?
3 – Ice Cream Mooncakes – Yes, you read that right! This recipe from Let’s Ketchup with Linda shows how to substitute your favorite flavor of ice cream as the filling for dark or white chocolate "mooncake" shells.
4 – Snowskin Mooncakes – From Noob Cook, take note of this no-bake recipe using pastel-tinted rice flour dough formed around ready-made lotus paste filling. Just press the filled balls into mooncake molds, chill in the fridge, then serve.
5 – Baked Chocolate Mini Mooncake recipe – For chocolate lovers, this interesting variation from Jo Ling Yeoh is filled with ready-made chocolate lotus seed paste (available in Asian pastry shops).
Preparing the Celebration Tablescape
Get the kids involved with creating a fun tablesetting complete with your crafty creations! See our example below for a modern Chinese-inspired tablescape styled by Bellenza with simple décor elements.
Have a blast with these meaningful, enjoyable, and delish ways to learn about Asia’s Mooncake Festival with the whole family!