Last month we celebrated the ancient Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. Next to Chinese New Year this is the largest Chinese festival celebrated in Hong Kong. I learned this year that the Chinese have been celebrating this festival since the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). The ancient Chinese people believed that the moon played a large role in seasons and agricultural productions. This festival began as a way to express their thanks to the moon and celebrate the harvest. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which basically means for us Westerners it falls in mid-September sometime during the full harvest moon. 🙂
[I still have yet to figure out why it’s called “Mid” Autumn as it wasn’t even technically Autumn at all yet according to our calendars. It for sure doesn’t feel like Autumn around here yet with temperatures in the high 80’s with relative humidity between 60-85%. But then again the leaves don’t change here either.] 🙂
In modern time this celebration is a reason for families to gather together and share a special meal. The festival involves lots of lanterns and lantern displays amidst the light of the full moon. People also celebrate with glow sticks and candles. Small candles (very similar to birthday cake candles) are sold this time of year and people will go to the beach and stick them in the sand and enjoy a host of little lights. Mooncakes are a traditional treat eaten during this festival. They are attractive pastries usually made with red bean or lotus seed paste filling. Inside some of the traditional mooncakes contain a ‘moon’ or a yolk from a salted duck egg. Sound interesting?? Yes, I said a salted duck egg! What is more, Abe actually thinks they are delicious!
This year we celebrated Mid-Autumn with our good friends the Johnson’s. They are missionaries here from the U.S. and live on the other side of town in a village next the beach. The kids had their Chinese paper lanterns or more modern plastic lanterns. We took a walk along the beach with our lanterns and enjoyed the sights and sounds…such a festive, joyous evening. After our walk we went back to their house and tried some mooncakes. I admit I didn’t try the traditional moon cakes with the egg yolk. I chose the snowy mookcakes which are sweeter (with NO egg yolk!). Mango and blueberry were our favorite. Mooncakes have a sticky texture that is unlike anything I’ve had before. But it’s all part of the tradition!