Each year during the fall, many Asian countries celebrate the Mid Autumn Day Festival with their friends and family. This harvest festival is one celebrated during the full moon. Traditions include eating lots of yummy food with friends and family, watching the moon, and eating moon cakes.
Moon cakes are delicious pastries filled with all kinds of things, from the very popular red bean paste, to fruits and nuts, to savory things such as eggs.
To celebrate the Festival, we were invited to join a group of people to share music and stories. At this gathering, I was taught how to make moon cakes, and it’s actually quite simple! We had two kinds of dough, one firm, the other soft. We simply rolled a ball from each dough, squished the firm ball flat, and then wrapped it around the softer ball. After that, we placed it in the moon cake press which gave it a pretty design. Then, you simply let it set for a while, and eat it! I quite enjoy the moon cakes even though some of the other interns aren’t fans, and I’ll be quite sad when this festival rolls around next year and I won’t get to enjoy any.
At the gathering, we were also told stories about where the Festival originates from. They say that long ago, there was a great archer and his beautiful wife. They lived together very happily until one day, 9 suns rose into the sky. It was much to hot, so the archer shot down 8 of the suns, leaving only one to shine down. An immortal spirit saw what the archer had done and was very impressed. She gave the archer an elixir to drink to make him immortal too. Not wanting to leave his beautiful wife, the archer hid away the elixir, content to live out his mortal life by her side. One man knew about the magical drink and wanted it for himself, so one day, when the archer was out hunting, the man came and demanded that the archers wife give him the elixir. Not wanting to allow the man to have it, the wife drank it and floated into the sky where she now resides in the moon. The archer began to mourn the loss of his wife and honored the moon whenever he could with food and other gifts. The other villagers were sympathetic and therefore joined the archer in his honoring, leading to the Moon Festival.
One of the best parts about being in another country is enjoying the local festivities. You learn so much about their culture and traditions and get to try all sorts of new foods. We all enjoyed our first holiday here and can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester holds for us.