Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My World Tuesday: Mooncake festival

I had no intention of recording this lesson. If I had known my students had wanted to photograph this, I would have done it neatly. LOL

These brown moon cakes are baked. The filling may be lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, red bean paste, with or without salted duck egg yolk, and my favourite, the nutty ones aka WU REN made of nuts and seeds like almond, pumpkin seeds, ham, ginger, and so on.

Modern style snow skin of pale pink, yellow, green or white. These skins were precooked like playdough, and you have to keep them in the fridge. They have flavours like straw berry, green tea, pandan, chocolate and even ice cream. I am a person of tradition, despite living most of my adult life in a western country. To me, moon cakes have to be traditional.

The pomelo is a giant citrus fruit. It is much bigger than a grape fruit as you can see in the pix. It is very sweet, and is very popular during Mid Autumn festival and Chinese New Year.

The Thais make a spicy pomelo salad.

When we were young, we had ourselves a pomelo hat. We didn't teach this to Sam. He naturally did it. Like Mother like Son. It is only today, that I learned a symbolic reason for doing this in Taiwan.


The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, Zhongqiu Festival, or in Chinese, Zhongqiujie (traditional Chinese: 中秋節). It is also known as the mooncake festival ot the lantern festival. in Vietnamese "Tết Trung Thu", is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese,Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese people, dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally "Mid-Autumn Festival") in the Zhou Dynasty.[1] In Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival. It is also related to the important Korean holiday of Chuseok.

Today, at ESOL class, I got my adult students to recount what Mid Autumn festival meant to them. I had a plan on the white board, and some of the students were happy to be reminded. They had vaguely remember all the stories they were told when they were young. Some of them were so impressed with the class that they wanted to take a photo of the lesson. So I decided to post it here.

While there are the folk lore of the lady Chang'e in the moon and her cruel husband Houyii, and the rabbit.

I like to remember this Mid Autumn festival as the day China was liberated from the cruel Mongolian rule in the 14th Century, 1280 to 1360. My dad told me every year that this day is likened to the American Independence day.

At that time, China was ruled by the cruel Monguls. People were not allowed to congregate or there was no way to revolt. A man hatched a plan to put a piece of paper in the moon cake, with the secret message to kill the Mongul soldier guarding the door at precisely the same time on August 15th, of the Lunar calender. They pretended that that day was the Moon Festival. So when the Chinese people cut open the moon cake, they found the message, and together at the same time, they killed the Mongul solders, and hence liberated China.

After getting rid of the Mongols, the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) started.

I told my students, (the same way as my Grandpa who had left his motherland China for Borneo)It is important to tell the future generation the history of this festival Not many people are aware of this, and consider the lady of the moon as a fairy tale.

My Taiwanese students tell me that they have BBQs on this occasion. They also put the pomelo rind on the heads like my son did in the photo. In Mandarin, pomelos are called 柚子 (you zi), which means "praying for a son." As having a son is very important to the Chinese family to carrying on the family name, it is important to pray for a son. My son wore his hat on his own account. My kind of Cantonese did not practise this.

This festival is one of the three most important festivals in the Chinese calender. In Taiwan, it is a public holiday. Employees are given a bonus.

It is a reunion dinner, and after the meal, you take a stroll with the children with their lanterns and appreciate the moon. My Taiwanese student said for the past five years, they couldn't appreciate the moon because of the weather. We joked, looks like, she can't do it this year as well, since we have such a lousy weather.


Ginny Hartzler said...

I have posted a mooncake, and also th story of the festival. My little granddaughter, who you have seen on my blog, is Chinese. But I love this pink one, the ones I've had are all traditional brown. They take so long to make!! The more I read your blog, I think that you are such a very good teacher!!

Ginny Hartzler said...

Oh, I see that the way I wrote this comment, it looks like I made the mooncake! No, I didn't make it. I was commenting on how long they take to make. I would never even attempt such a long and hard recipe. You are put to shame no more!!

Carver said...

What a fascinating post and I enjoyed the sequence of photographs. I learned a lot from this post.

Ensurai said...

It is lovely to know something about the mooncake festival on your side of the world!! Mooncakes are my favourite cakes....cheers.

Looks like you have been really busy. My sister contacted you?

Jama said...

I'm not a big fan of mooncakes but love the pomelos! this I never fail to buy.
Just yesterday, I saw the neighbourhood kids playing with sparklers and lanterns .

Dave said...

An interesting blog Ann. Your multiculturism make you an interesting writer. Well done! - Dave

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Unknown said...

Can you believe I havent eaten a single bite of mooncake this year :( Mom wanted a party with all the lanterns and food but we had to decline...daughter having her upsr exams, and DH does not want distraction....happy week aheae.

Unknown said...

Can you believe I havent eaten a single bite of mooncake this year :( Mom wanted a party with all the lanterns and food but we had to decline...daughter having her upsr exams, and DH does not want distraction....happy week aheae.

Dani said...

wonderful post.

I like sweet moon cakes more. Although, I havent tried various kinds. Just few.

Thank you for the visit.