MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL 中秋節 2016

Yesterday and today (September 15 and 16, 2016) are “National Holidays” to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. I decided to use ” ” when talking about National Holidays because I will have to work during the weekend to make up for these days off, so personally, I won’t refer to these days as proper holidays.

Since it is my first Mid-Autumn Festival ever, I think this is a great opportunity to write about it, to explain what is it and how people celebrate it.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節 ZhongQiuJie) is a synonym to family reunion. It is celebrated when the Full Moon is believed to be at its brightest and biggest moment. For Chinese people, the Moon is the symbol of Prosperity, Happiness, and Family Reunions.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important Chinese traditional holiday after the Chinese New Year and takes place in September-October. During these days, it is a tradition to offer and eat Mooncakes and contemplate the Moon.

This festivity has been celebrated for more than 3,000 years. Back then, during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), it was a tradition to worship the Moon. Many poems and legends were written during the Mid-Autumn Festival. For example, the Zhuang people has a very old fable that says that the Sun and the Moon were a couple and the Stars were their children. Every time there was a Full Moon, the Moon was pregnant and when it was on the Crescent phase, meant that she had given birth. This kind of stories increased the number of women worshiping the Moon and giving offerings to Chang’e, the Immortal Goddess of the Moon.

Chinese Moon Goddess
Chang’e, the Immortal Goddess of the Moon

It is super common to hear people greeting and wishing each other “中秋快乐” (ZhongQiuKuaiLe), Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

How do people celebrate it nowadays? It is still a tradition to gather with your family and friends to worship the Moon, eat Mooncake and play games. In some places, they lighten lanterns,  light up incense or perform and dance.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Philippines, and each place celebrates differently.

My celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival didn’t include any worshiping, but it did include some Mooncake-eating. My current company offers every year a Mooncake gift box and helds some activities such as Mooncake tasting.

Since I am becoming a Chinese myself, I got quite excited about getting the Mooncake gift box, that way I’d be able to taste and enjoy the tradition. I read that there are different types of mooncakes in different sizes and fillings. The traditional fillings are made of red bean paste, lotus seed paste, egg, and jujube. Imagine how popular and important the Mooncakes are, even Starbucks has its own Mooncake line!

Mooncake Starbucks
Starbucks’ own Mooncake creations for 2016

As it is a holiday to enjoy with family and friends, I asked Fran to come to Shenzhen to try the Mooncake and to spend the day together – in that priority order.

In the past we had some bad experiences regarding Chinese pastry and sweets – including the Chinese tea pastries that I gave to my parents as a souvenir during my last visit to Madrid. But this time, I had a good feeling, I was sure I would enjoy the Mooncake! Well…I was wrong. Mooncakes have a very weird flavor, they are very dry, the filling was yolk (I’m not a fan) and they are not sweet! I didn’t comment on the flavor, I simply stared at Fran to see his reaction… yup.. a small bite for both of us was more than enough… Let’s better enjoy the rest of the day together.

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So this is the Mid-Autumn Festival or 中秋節.

中秋快乐! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

 

by Eloisa Latorre

 

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