Tuesday, September 29, 2009
This Saturday is Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival. It marks the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of cooler weather. It's a time for families to gather and celebrate the past year. This holiday is similar to the celebration of Thanksgiving when families come together.
There are a number of legendary stories behind moon festival, but one that is familiar to most is the story of how Chang Er flees to the Moon. In the story a young girl, Chang Er, drinks a potion of immortality and floats to the moon. She now lives on the moon where she watches over her husband, who on the 15th of the eighth lunar month, prepares sacrifices to the moon and sends prayers wishing the best for his beloved.
It is a tradition for people to give others moon cakes. These sweet pastries are filled with a number of delicious fillings ranging from red bean paste and yellow egg yolk to jams, jellies, and dried fruits. I know the red bean and egg yolk sound bad, but they are actually quite delicious - very sweet. I read an article recently that said that recently bakeries have been competing to not only make the most delicious moon cakes but because of the way people can put on the pounds this time of year, also the most healthy options. (Just like Thanksgiving & Christmas!)
This year, Dan and I received a number of moon cakes as it falls the week of Confucius's Day/Teacher Appreciation Day. We received a box of moon cakes and a red envelope (a traditional gift giving item) from our school. The box contained a variety of moon cakes as well as other sweet treats. We also received home-made moon cakes made by a member of our staff as a Teacher Appreciation gift. Tonight I received yet another box of moon cakes, this time honey flavored.
These sweet treats have made great breakfast and midnight treats. We look forward to many more Chinese celebrations and hope to learn the stories behind them.
COMING SOON: Double Ten's Day (10/10) Chinese National Day