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Origin of Moon Cake

Mooncakes have played a central role in Moon Festival traditions. Once, according to Chinese legend, mooncakes helped bring about a revolution. 

The time was the Yuan dynasty (AD 1280-1368), established by the invading Mongolians from the north. The Mongolians subjugated the Han Chinese.

According to one Chinese folk tale, a Han Chinese rebel leader named Liu Fu Tong devised a scheme to arouse the Han Chinese to rise up against the ruling Mongols to end the oppressive Yuan dynasty. He sought permission from Mongolian leaders to give gifts to friends as a symbolic gesture to honor the longevity of the Mongolian emperor.

These gifts were round mooncakes. Inside, Liu had his followers place pieces of paper with the date the Han Chinese were to strike out in rebellion -- on the fifteenth night of the eighth month.

Thus Liu got word to his people, who when they cut open the mooncakes found the revolutionary message and set out to overthrow the Mongols, thus ending the Yuan dynasty.

Today, far from the exotic and heroic legends, Chinese communities all over the world make and consume mooncakes during the traditional autumn Moon Festival.

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