Mid-autumn festival is a Chinese holiday that falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. A calendar that aligns with the phases of the moon. The holiday lasts for three days and is partly the cause of the fake-cation scheme described in the last post. In celebration of both the middle of the autumn season, a good harvest, as well as the full moon, Chinese take time to visit family, moon gaze, take walks with lanterns, race fire dragons and distribute the fruit cake of the east, the moon cake.
One gives moon cakes to family and friends. Businesses give them to vendors and employees. Students and parents give them to teachers. We quickly give all the moon cakes we receive to our aiyi, Xiao Luo.
In my very humble opinion, moon cakes are gross (unless its of the Godiva or Haagen-Dazs variaton). The most popular moon cakes hail from Hong Kong, baked with sweet lotus paste and salty egg yolk wrapped in a pastry shell. Other “caloric” variations include red bean paste, meats such as pork and even lychee. Our school gave us a box of the above, Yunan-Ham Moon Cakes. Here’s what they looked like:
In Hong Kong mid-autumn break allowed for a much needed day off in the beginning of the school year (much like Rosh Hashana did when I was a kid going to school in the suburbs of New York). Some of the major highlights included Victoria park in Causeway Bay hosting a huge lantern park and the beaches throughout the city packed with moon gazers and littered with candles.
Here in Chengdu I’m not sure where the moon gazing takes place (although recent thunderstorms and a snap in temperatures may ensure that we actually can see the moon). I’m hoping there will be some lanterns by the river at least. We plan on spending our fake-cation sitting at home, reading and cooking for most of the day (we have a week and half worth of veg shipment in our fridge, including half a jin of basil), which we already kicked off with some healthy banana bread for breakfast. A good friend from home who is now living in Hong Kong arrives late tonight, so stay tuned for some touristy Chengdu posts to come!