Image by Trish H-C (Unsplash)

Celebrating the Autumn equinox – The Moon Festival in China

With the start of September and Autumn soon falling upon us with the promise of cooler weather, starry nights and the myriad of colours from fallen leaves, it is the perfect time to spend time with family and celebrate.  Lucy, one of our Senior Visitor Assistants, looks at the Moon Festival in China and of course explores some possible Scotch whiskies you can enjoy.

During the month of September, families in China come together to celebrate the Moon Festival, or otherwise known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Mooncake Festival, the Harvest Moon Festival or the Lantern Festival. This is the second most important festival in China after the Chinese New Year and takes place on the 10th September, the 15th day of the eight lunar month. On this day, the Moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest size, coinciding with harvest time in the middle of Autumn.

During the festival, lanterns of all shapes and sizes are carried and displayed symbolising beacons of light to people’s path to good fortune and prosperity. In light of this, a Balvenie Scotch can be enjoyed as a token to providing prosperity for the future. Balvenie means the ‘village of luck’ in Gaelic and seems a fitting dram for a festival which has good fortune and luck at its heart.

Additionally, the autumn harvest and the reaping of rice and wheat is also at the core of festivities. Images of fields upon fields of grain being gathered come to mind and cereal grains, especially barley is an integral component to the production of Scotch whisky. Balvenie again seems fitting here as it is one of eight distilleries in Scotland to still have its own malting floor.

The use of barley has also been honoured in other whiskies including the Bruichladdich Islay Barley and the Benromach Organic. The Bruichladdich Islay Barley celebrates a malt produced using barley by a group of local farmers from across Islay and the elements of the whisky come together to tell the story of where the whisky is from.

The Benromach Organic, on the other hand, was first released in 2006 and is the world’s first certified organic whisky.  The whisky also consists of some spicy notes which could complement and accompany some of the spices and pumpkin seeds used in the making of mooncakes. Pumpkins are particularly seen as a sign of good health.

Furthermore, family is at the centre of the Moon Festival and Glenfarclas could be a good whisky here. Glenfarclas is one of the few family owned distilleries still in Scotland and is under the sixth generation of the Grant family. The use of the colour red in their packaging is a lovely reminder that red is important in Chinese culture as a symbol of happy events.

So why not grab some whisky, embrace the start of Autumn and spend some time with family this September.

Moon cake

Image by Yy Lam (Unspash)

To learn more about the Moon Festival, read on:

The legend of a Chinese Goddess in a tale of love and devotion …

The Festival celebrates family reunions, as well as a romantic occasion, and is rooted in many different myths and legends from over 3000 years ago.

One of the most famous is the legend of Chang’e, a Chinese Goddess and the story of a hero named Hou Yi. Hou Yi lived during a time where there were ten suns in the sky which caused people to die and crops to fail. The tale tells how Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns with his bow and arrow to save the Earth. He was then presented an elixir by the Queen of Heaven, Wangmu, to make him immortal and allow him to be a God in Heaven. However, Hou Yi did not drink the elixir because he wanted to remain with his wife, Chang’e, and told her to watch over the elixir instead.

One day though, there was an attempt to steal the elixir from her by one of Hou Yi’s students and Chang’e then drank the potion to foil the student’s plans. As a result, she flew to the moon where she would remain forever as the moon is considered the closest place on Earth to Heaven. People have prayed for her fortune ever since and during the Moon Festival, she’s presented with a variety of food offerings and festival-goers swear that they can see Chang’e dancing on the moon.


Image by Alexa Soh (Unspash)

The enjoyment of mooncakes in the light of the full moon ….

When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes in the moon’s shadow and sing moon poems. It is believed that mooncakes were the favourite of Chang’e and are a Chinese pastry. A typical mooncake is often round in shape and consists of a rich filling made from sweet red bean or lotus seed paste and often contains yolks from salted duck eggs. The filling also consists of chopped nuts and seed such as pumpkin, walnut, peanut, watermelon and sesame along with pieces of rock sugar.

Although mooncakes are not often consumed during the year, everyone will have one during the Festival and the cakes would be commonly cut into the number of pieces that are equal to the number of family members as a symbolic gesture of sharing and reunion.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and learning more about The Moon Festival and the whiskies to enjoy. Slainte.