Monday, 12 September 2011

Happy Mid Autumn!

It's the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calender today, the Mid Autumn Festival! Also known as the Moon festival, it is the day in the year when the moon is at its fullest and roundest and was originally associated with moon worship. Traditionally it was also a celebration of the harvest.

Chang' E the moon maiden who stole the elixir of immortality, with the Jade Rabbit

Today, it's a day when families gather (the round moon symbolising reunion) and moon watch, celebrating by moonlight, eating lots and lots.

A many coursed dinner would be followed by lots of fresh fruit - pears, starfruits, pomelos, and of course, moon cakes. These are round pastries with sweet fillings. There are so many varieties of moon cakes now, but my favourite is still the traditional ones with the sweet lotus paste and crumbly yellow egg yolks.

Can you see why they're called Moon cakes? =D
Photo by china roamer

My absolute favourite part of the festival is the lanterns. When I was younger in Hong Kong, our living room had French windows looking out into the garden and there'd be brightly coloured paper lanterns hanging from the top ledge, the candles flickering inside. I liked the special shaped ones the most, rabbits, tigers, goldfish, star fruits...

A shop selling beautiful paper lanterns
Photo by Dead Cat

Of course, being allowed to stay up late and wonder around with a pretty lantern was incredibly fun. Public carnival-like celebrations would also take place, with huge lantern displays, performances and stalls.

Mid Autumn lantern display in Victoria Park, Hong Kong 2010
Photo by hkdigit

Look out for the big, round moon tonight!  You might just see the Jade Rabbit. According to Chinese folklore, he lives there with Chang'E, the maiden who flew up to the moon after stealing and taking the elixir of immortality.

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