October 4, 2009

Mid-Autumn Day

Giant pandas are served mooncakes in Guangzhou on October 3, 2009, to celebrate the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of lunar calendar. The mooncakes were specially made out of bamboo powder for the pandas. [Xinhua]

We celebrated Mid-Autumn Day (or Moon Festival) along with all the other Chinese this year by giving and receiving mooncakes. While the name is similar, these are nothing like moon pies. Moon cakes are like an extra dense "hockey pucks" of bread/dough filled with red been paste, eggs, or if you are really lucky and find the rarest of all, filled with fruit (and them taste like a fig newton).

After talking with a student, we learned the moon cakes were traditional home made by families for the festival. Each family would purchase an expensive press that would mold the cakes into their puck shape before baking. The cakes are shared to family and friends to celebrate this day.

It often seems as if the tradition and ritual has won out of the actually taste of the mooncakes. Most families, students, business, and friends participate in a great mooncake exchange giving and receiving the cakes without really enjoying eating them. This same student said his class participate in the great mooncake exchange with each student receiving mooncakes from their hometowns that they would in turn share with the rest of the class, a sort of taste test. And of course, in my student's opinion, the mooncakes from his hometown were the best!

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