Where does come from?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a major holiday observed each year in East Asia cultures around the world, especially in China and Vietnam. It starts on the 15th day of the eighth month according to the lunar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival is observed in September or October each year.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is an ancient harvest festival, historically involving worship of a moon deity associated with fertility. Today, the holiday celebrates family, togetherness, and thanksgiving, and is observed with the lighting of beautiful lanterns and the giving and eating of mooncakes, both symbols of the moon.
Mooncakes—or yuèbǐng (月饼) in Chinese—are a round pastry filled with red bean and lotus seed paste, sometimes filled with two salted duck yolks. Its circular shape resembles a full moon, which is an emblem of completeness and unity. This beloved delicacy and important symbol is what the moon cake emoji depicts and is intended to honor.
The emoji was approved in 2018 under Unicode 11.0, the same year Unicode approved two other emoji associated with Chinese culture: firecracker 🧨 and red envelope 🧧 emoji, which are used to celebrate Chinese New Year. The 2017 proposal for the moon cake emoji observed:
Currently, the dessert emoji selection does not include any iconic Chinese desserts, while it has a lot of western and Japanese desserts. Thus the MOONCAKE emoji would be be a great addition to the existing food and drinks emojis to better reflect the dessert choices enjoyed by people around the world.
For their moon cake emoji, major platforms depict a mooncake with an ornamental design on its crust, often with a wedge cut out as revealing a yolk inside. Twitter’s mooncake features the Chinese character for “fall/autumn” or “harvest” (秋) on its crust.
Who uses ?
The moon cake emoji, true to its real-life origin, is commonly used to mark the Mid-Autumn Festival, as it is celebrated in China, Vietnam, East Asia, and in their communities all around the world.
Customers walk in a mall decorated with #lanterns which are used to celebrate the upcoming Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 🥮🏮#MidAutumnFestival pic.twitter.com/Vx80NuIZgQ
— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) September 4, 2019
Giving out moon cakes 🥮 at Mid-Autumn Festival in Sunset Park! Thanks to the American Chinese Commerce Association and Asian American Community Empowerment for hosting. pic.twitter.com/7W7XcYGwWy
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) September 8, 2019
Nothing like a beautiful mooncake set as a gift for your loved ones! Available in 4 flavors, Espresso Chestnut, Mixed Nuts Coffee, Tiramisu and Green Tea Key Lime, at all stores. 😉🥮 pic.twitter.com/dpv5IALU7I
— Starbucks Malaysia (@StarbucksMY) September 7, 2019
The emoji is also used to represent China and Chinese culture.
The essential part of a conference in China: discussions at mountains of delicious #food. On top of beef tripes and tendons, duck feet, pork aspic, jellyfish and giant shrimps, I've eaten the best stuffed eggplants and pork baozi in my life! Not to mention dozens of mooncakes😋🥮 pic.twitter.com/AsFg1FDkT5
— Dr. Maria Żurek (@mariakzurek) August 28, 2019
— Travelscoop (@thetravelscoop) August 11, 2019
The moon cake emoji is also occasionally used to represent various types of pastries and desserts more generally.