Sunday, September 7, 2014

the Mooncake Festival

We missed out on Labor Day here in China (that was our first day of school). 

But we get to have our own Chinese kind of three-day-weekend this weekend because of the Mooncake Festival (which is also called the "Mid-Autumn Festival").  I'm pretty sure this holiday started clear back in the Shang Dynasty and there are tons of traditions relating to it (they celebrate in Vietnam and Singapore and a few others too that have their own kinds of traditions relating to it), but mostly here in China it's to celebrate the Autumn full moon and to gather and give thanks as families.  
I love that.

It's customary to make and give away intricate "mooncakes" at this time of year so we have received a few really fancy ones.  These ones are the most intricate:
That is some serious detail.  

One of the ladies on my new little Chinese "WeChat" group (everyone uses WeChat around here) mentioned the Chinese government has started making sanctions on how moon cakes can be packaged because they started getting extravagant enough that they were starting to worry about the overabundance of trash they left behind.  

I have no idea if that's really founded or not but it would make sense.  There are a LOT of these fancy things going around all packaged up to try to be more beautiful than the others.

We had our own little taste-test of the different flavors.
 ...and decided these are one of the many things it takes a while for taste-buds to get used to.

To celebrate this weekend we went on a family walk to take in the beautiful full moon:

We ran into new neighbors we are grateful to know, and tried to figure out a riddle Elle's physics teacher gave her to ponder over the weekend.

Then we had a movie night here at home and made our own version of "Moon Cakes" to celebrate.

This is how it looks to try to bake Texas sheet cake (aka "mooncakes" for now) in China with a tiny stove and unfamiliar baking supplies (except the Hershey's we brought from home):
Our oven isn't big enough for a jelly roll pan (and needs a cleaning!):
So we opted for a couple pans:
No one seemed to complain.  Ha!  

I have been pondering how interesting it is that food is such a comfort thing.  We are gradually going to ease into as much Chinese food as we can (I hope) but for now it's pretty amazing how excited and giddy we all are for something familiar to eat.  Makes us all appreciate it so much more.

Today (we are already to Monday over here) we are off to have our own family adventure in the city to celebrate with the rest of the mooncake lovers.


  1. I love mooncakes!! Those are the most beautiful mooncakes that I've ever seen! You're right, it does take some time for taste-buds to get use to. :)

  2. How neat! The moon is looking rather full and beautiful here in the dessert tonight.

  3. I remember my first mooncake festival in HK as a missionary more than 40 yrs. ago. Definitely an acquired taste. Those chocolate sheet cakes remind me of the pumpkin pies we baked for Thanksgiving in a toaster oven! Love reading your family's adventures.

  4. I didn't like mooncakes when I tried them in HK two years ago! It was a particular taste that I couldn't bear, and that considering that I'm quite open to new flavours and international cuisine. I loved the celebration of the mid-autumn festival with all the lanterns at night and the fire dragon. Don't know if there's anything similar in Shanghai though. :)

  5. I had a mooncake in Beijing last year during the Mid-Autumn Festival. :) Just a bite and then I reached for my snickers bar! :) Praying for your family every day!

  6. A sweet Chinese friend and recent concert just brought our family some moon cakes today! We'll be trying them after dinner!

  7. Shawni,
    Moon cakes are nasty - I've never got used to them. I'm in Vietnam now and have been enjoying the festival here (but not the mooncakes)! So happy you guys are in China! Awesome!!!

  8. Just LOVE those festivals! It's amazing what creative people can do with a festival! Remember the Star Festival in Japan? I've never seen so many people before or since!


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