The perfect season has arrived to China. It’s not hot and muggy anymore, and it’s too early for the coal heaters to be running and clogging up our lungs with coal dust. The fields of corn are being harvested and streets are lined with a festive yellow. Corn corn corn. As far as the eye can see.
Late summer flowers blossom and the sky is suddenly blue because something happens when the temperature cools off and the smog seems to just disappear for a week or so. Breathe in deep. It’s almost time for the Mid-Autumn Festival!
And yet — wait?! The mid-autumn festival? But, surely, it’s only a few days since the first day of Fall!? How could it already be “Mid-Autumn”?
Ah, friend, this is where the Sun and Moon disagree. In China, nearly all holidays are based off of the Lunar Calendar (an exception would be the May 1st holiday, which is always May 1st… and the National Holiday which is always October 1st). So, as the moon waxes and wanes, seasons come and go and holidays appear and everybody cleans house and chops garlic and gives their neighbors candy. So, each year the day is different. Sometimes it’s smack-dab in the middle of September, and sometimes it’s near the end.
This year, the Mid-autumn festival is tomorrow, September 27th. And you can be sure that the last few weeks have been full of grape-harvesting and mushroom-drying and moon-cake selling.
So, what about those mooncakes? Mid-autumn festival is also known as the “Mooncake Festival”, right?
Mooncakes are baked goodies that you can really only buy fresh during the later weeks of September. They are made specifically for Mid-Autumn Festival! Mooncakes are a dense, chewy and crumbly bread surrounding just about any kind of filling you can imagine.
Peanuts? Yep. Sesame seeds? Uh-huh. Strawberry? Red bean? Green bean? Five-seed-and-nut? Yes, yes, and yes.
Also, salty egg-yolk, which is not my favorite. For some reason, whenever we buy a variety package of mooncakes, the salty egg-yolk ones end up in the trash. After a few traumatic experiences, we’ve taken to cutting mooncakes in half before eating them. For one, these cakes are dense and filling. But it’s also just safer that way. You never know when you might find a fish-flavored one.
I’ve never done that yet… but it’s China, guys… you never know what you might bite into! (hint: the mooncakes have their flavor stamped onto the top. Look for the ones that say 草莓 and you should be safe with strawberry)
This holiday is also referred to as the “Full Moon” or “Harvest Moon” festival. The reason becomes pretty obvious around sunset…
What better way to end a Chinese holiday/festival, than with fireworks?! #becauseChina
Zhong Qiu Jie Kuai Le! (Jong Chee-oh Jee-eh Qu-ai Lu)
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!