Friday, October 5, 2012

Mid-Autumn Festival

It's pouring outside. I just took a nap. I don't wan to work on lesson plans anymore. Blog it is.

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second largest festival in Chinese culture. If you want to know the stories behind it you can look here. It's always on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (mid-autumn) so you know you'll have a full moon! I learned a lot about it from my students in their papers.  Because of the stories attached to this day, it is customary to give your friends and family moon cakes.  These are just some of the ones I got from various people.
The large one on the right was the one I got when I went w/ my boss to that lady's factory.  It's filed w/ bean paste.  Sounds gross. It's not.  It's sweet. The ones on the left, well, those are filled with ham.  Yup. Not exactly my favorite but they aren't awful either. The ones in the bowl have different things in them. Most are some sort of fruit thing that reminds me of a fig newton so I like them. One has some green tea thing in it. The fruit ones are my favorite.

People can go to bakeries and have them made with their families name on them so it can become a personalized gift. I still have a whole bag full of moon cakes in my kitchen.

Every supermarket here has tents set up outside where they display all of their moon cakes. It's everywhere. For the 2 weeks prior to the holiday, moon cakes are the popular thing.  It's the only time of year you can get them. It's a big deal.

I was lucky enough to spend the holiday at my friend Tonie's house.  Her mom used to own a restaurant in the city and this woman is an incredible cook so I was super excited!  I went over there around 3:30 that afternoon and didn't get home til a little after 10.  We had tea, moon cakes (the best ones I'll probably ever have), peanuts, sunflower seeds and a whole bunch of fruit... before dinner.  I got to see pictures from Tonie's childhood.

The pic on the left is a sugar filled moon cake and a bean paste one.  The pic on the right makes me hungry!  The one closest to the camera has what Tonie said is some green bean filling.  It didn't taste like that.  It tasted like awesome. The one in the back has a nut mixture.  Peanuts, walnuts, probably almonds. Delicious!

It was finally time for dinner. YUM! I got to sit next to her mom who kept putting food in my bowl.  I think she wants me to get fat.  I'll take it! We had boiled quail eggs, crab, these spicy potato fry things that are super popular here, corn, black chicken, her mom's famous jiaozi (potstickers), fried pork, chicken soup... and more that I can't remember or see in the picture. (Also, the kid in this picture is incredible and I want him! Cutest, funniest, happiest kid I've ever seen.)
 After dinner, while everyone was cleaning up and they forbade me from helping (yeah, I just used the word 'forbade'), I got to talk w/ Tonie's dad in Chinese. He doesn't speak any English but he was talking to me and I actually understood and could respond to most things.  It was a proud moment for me. For the next few hours we just kept eating basically.  I found a new fruit that I love.  It's called longan (that's it's English name). It has the taste of a papaya but the texture and size of lychee.  It's yummy. I got to talk w/ Tonie about Chinese weddings.  She's getting married soon and her nephew (the cute little one who they told to call me Nai Nai Hailey which means 'aunt') was getting ready to participate in a pre-wedding ceremony.  They take all of these things that represent the future of the couple like, food, money, incense I think, and little kids.  They put the items under the bed and the kids get to jump on the bed and roll all over it and it's supposed to represent the couple having smart, loving children or something. I'll need another lesson about it. Anyways, cute little kid (Andy), was wearing this adorable little blazer and jeans and going crazy. We played peek-a-boo for a while because he was still too nervous to talk to me. BUT, eventually he left to do his wedding thing and we went up to the second floor to get ready for the moon.
 Chinese, who hold the traditional beliefs, put all of this food out and burn incense. It's their sacrifice to the moon god. The picture underneath is the burning of these little paper boats that happened later.
 FINALLY, around 9:30, the clouds cleared enough for us to see the moon.  Tonie's mom started doing some traditional Wa people dances while her dad and Tonie and I sang the songs (because I'm cool and I know Wa music). A whole bunch of people came up later and we just sat around eating and talking until I forced myself to leave because I had to get up early for YD the next morning.  Her mom asked why I was leaving so soon.  I'd been there for 7 hours! Haha. Her family is great and I hope I get to spend more time over there.  Hopefully, her mom will teach me how to cook.  When Tonie asked her she just smiled a lot so I'm thinking that's a yes.

Andy came back from his wedding gig just grasping onto the money they gave him.  He was super hyper and started going off about the moon and moon cakes.  He said he's had moon cakes, but he's never eaten the moon.  He looked a bit confused.  GAH! He's so great. ALSO... when the locals speak in their local dialect, I can't understand them. I know their numbers and 2 other words, but that's it.  Little Andy said something about his shoes, but he spoke traditional Chinese and everyone started cracking up.  So I'm hoping I can speed up this language thing and tackle traditional and local Chinese.  How ridiculous would that be?!?!?!?!?!

I've had a lovely week off from school. Busy with trips, catching up on sleep, watching too much American TV, not doing lesson plans, cooking Chinese food and hanging out w/ my students.  School starts back up on Monday. I think I'm ready for it though.

Happy Moon Cakes Day!

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