Growing up, my parents sent me to private school. At 13, I didn’t appreciate the sacrifice my parents made for my education. To be honest, I remember being a little bitter that the public school system’s holiday schedule included a lot more days off than my school’s schedule. Although my summer vacation came a few weeks earlier, those few vacation days we missed out on during the school year always seemed like the absolute worst. Well, now that I am grown-up (kind of), the thought of having random days off sounds just as good as it did when I was 13. Today is one of those special days.
September 19th is the Chinese Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Day Festival or Mooncake Festival (take your pick). To sum up the holiday, it’s a day where you eat mooncake and stare at the moon. OK – there is more to it than that. Let me give you a little more information…
Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is at its biggest and brightest, the Chinese celebrate "zhong qiu jie." The ancient Chinese observed that the movement of the moon and changing of the seasons had a tight relationship. As seasons changed, so did their harvest. This holiday gives thanks to the moon for the bounty and celebrates the harvest.
Now, how about these mooncakes? And NO – not moon PIES. These mooncakes are round to symbolize the union of family and the full moon.
They may be filled with everything from bean paste, dates and fruit to nuts and meat. They are made with lard and egg yolks and are VERY heavy. In fact, one bite is WAY more than enough for me. I’d rather eat chocolate cake, but when in Rome…or China!
Most people have the day off from work and school and spend their time with family and friends at home. There are also celebrations with lanterns which to some represent fertility – but to most have become a fun tradition and a representation of the festival itself.
So from our family to yours...
Happy Moon Festival!