Mid-Autumn Festival October 02 2012
Yesterday was Mid-Autumn Festival that many Chinese celebrate. This is a holiday that is celebrated on the 15th of every August in the Lunar calendar, which usually falls near the winter equinox in the Gregorian (Western) calendar. This day is the memorial of the lovers Hou Yi (male) and Chang Er (female); thus, families will gather for dinner and enjoy mooncakes together under the moonlight.
3000 years ago in China, lived an excellent archer, Hou Yi, whom one day decided he would shoot down 9 suns and let 1 stay so people and plants won't suffer from the extreme heat. After he shot down the suns, everyone was teared with joy and pronounced him to be king. Hou Yi married a beautiful woman, Chang Er, and lived happily after ever until one day he was granted with a magical pill called elixir that would turn anyone immortal if one were to consume it. Having sharing this news with his wife, they decided to hid away the elixir. Sadly someone heard their conversation, and wanted the elixir for himself. One day when Chang Er was alone at their palace, the man came in looking to steal the elixir. To prevent conflict, Chang Er swallowed it then quickly her body became so light that she flew high to the moon, and no longer to see her husband again. Chang Er sacrificed herself for their country to maintain peace while her husband would only be able to see her silhouette everynight when he looks up at the moon.
Every Autumn we celebrate this day with moon cake, and other crops we harvested. Traditional mooncakes are round with an egg yolk inside so when you sliced the cake in half, you will see a round shape resembling the moon. Though mooncakes were made in a round shape which symbolizes eternity, but throughout generations, it had taken on many new shapes and colors.
Like the photo above -- the light color filling is made with Durian ice cream, which is completely new to me! It's made in Singapore! For those who are not familar with Durian -- it is a fruit that you either love or hate because of its very pungent smell. I actually fall under one of the rare categories which is neutral. I don't really love, nor disgusted by this fruit. I usually don't crave for it, but sure can appreciate it.
If I was in Vietnam, China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong last night...or 2 nights ago (considering time difference) I would get to see all the beautiful handcrafted paper lanterns people make for children to carry around with their friends. The lanterns are made to look like rabbits mostly, and some of other animals then a candle is lit inside the lantern, and you'd carry it around with a bamboo stick attached to it. Ohh...I did that when I was young...
There is something I'm not clear about though -- why is the piglet so significant on this day? They are always displayed on the shelf with the mooncakes. Sure, they are adorable, but I can't think of why they are part of this celebration. The pig usually comes with a few piglets. Perhaps it signifies rebirth, a new beginning? Whatever the reasons are, Mid-Autumn Festival is definitely an evening being with friends and family and enjoy good stories and wonderful foods. Just like Thanksgiving.