Leading up to what falls (this year) on October 4th, is the Mid-Autumn Festival, an age-old tradition that was brought to Thailand by way of Chinese and Vietnamese cultural influences. If you find yourself in Bangkok during this time, it will be hard to not notice the festivities taking place, with colorful lanterns lighting the streets of China town, and an abundance of moon cakes- an indispensible symbol and delicacy offered between friends to mark the occasion and arrival of the season.

Held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Han calendar, the festival is for lunar worship and moon watching. In the past, families would get together to make offerings of osmanthus-flavored wine, spherical fruits such as pears, grapes, pomegranates and mooncakes to the heavens- to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest. It was a celebration for the arrival of ripe fruits under big and bright moon. To many, the Mid-Autumn festival is still considered to be one of the most important festivals of the year.

The crafting of moon cakes, which happen to be one of the earliest bakery items in the world, is believed to have originated from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) revolutionaries. It is said that they used to use the pastries to pass secret messages between each other.

Traditionally, moon cakes have been infused with embedded egg yolks and lotus seed paste, but today you can expect a modern makeover- with exciting and creative fillings such as egg custard, fruits and nuts, and durian.

While the flavors may vary, one thing that has remained consistent over time is the shape of the pastry. The roundness of a moon cake symbolizes the reunion of a family under a round moon. While families and friends historically met outside for an indulgent meal under the luminescence of the moon, the celebration still reunites families for a celebration of gratitude and appreciation.

You can find beautiful and extravagant moon cakes sold in hotels and bakeries all around Bangkok- including the Mandarin Oriental, the Peninsula Hotel,  and the Shangri-La.