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In United States there are some holidays that are celebrated together with family, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. In China, we also have family reunion days and the Moon Festival is one of them. The Moon Festival is also known as Mid-Autumn Festival or the Zhongqiu Festival. Of course, this festival has equivalents in other countries, such as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and South Korea. If you are not familiar with the Chinese Moon Festival then here are some suggestions to get you started that will help you to enjoy it.
Knowing more of history and knowledge of making lanterns and moon cakes will increases your enjoyment of Moon Festival. Here are the steps before the day arrives. First, you should know what the Moon Festival is about. The Mid-Autumn festival is an important event on the Chinese calendar, a time for family reunion and celebration. It began as a moon harvest festival and has rituals that started 3,000 years ago at Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 771 BCE) until 1300 years ago in Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) it became a national holiday.
The festival is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, falling close to the autumnal equinox. It is a time of lanterns, story-telling, moon cakes, dragon or lion dancing and matchmaking. Second, you need several things for the celebration, so visit your local Chinatown to purchase authentic Chinese tea leaves, lanterns, incenses and moon cakes. You can also make your own lanterns and moon cakes. These are important parts of the celebration. If you enjoy baking, you might like to make your own moon cakes for the celebration.
For details on making your own, check on the internet by using Google or YouTube there are many different recipes from all over the world, so it is your call what flavors to choose other than the traditional Chinese one. Give yourself plenty of time to practice making them if you’ve never tried before, they are labor intensive and time-consuming, which is why so many of them are now made commercially. Chinese moon cakes tend to be round, like the moon, while Vietnamese ones tend to be square but the shape used is flexible.
Traditional fillings for moon cakes include: lotus bean, seed paste, sweet bean paste, five kernel, egg yolk, jujube paste or dried jam apricots. However, there are many modern variations, so even though you are not good at baking don’t worry just got to the store and get a box for your family. Third, making easy lanterns at home is a good way to bring the children and other family members together for the event. This is very easy to make, even a child can do it. There are many ways to customize your own lanterns.
Common lanterns are sky lanterns for releasing into sky, paper lanterns for decoration and real lanterns for lighting and hanging around the home. Here is the second choice if you don’t like lanterns, which are fireworks. In China you can find people sell fireworks all over the place during this time, but in US I don’t think you can get any mid of September. This is prefect toy to play around for night event, so get some of those fireworks if possible and legal. Don’t forget safety is number one.
When the day arrives, the upcoming one is on Thursday, September 19 2013, in the day time you can visit Garden Party that established in Chinese Community such as Alhambra, Chinatown etc. There are many delicious food and drinks that you might like such as grilled chicken, BBQ, traditional Chinese food and food from other communities. Also interesting shows are performing on the stage that already prepared. So, it is good place to bring you family. At night time call your family or relatives over and watch the moon together, because this is a time of family togetherness.
Watch the moon rise and then disappear into the clouds or into the clear sky. Share your experiences of the moon: how bright it is, the way it looks in the night sky, the impressions it leaves on you. If you can’t be with your family, still look at the moon and think about your family. Suggest that they do the same too, and you’ll all be looking at the moon together, even if apart. If you want to find a date, go out to a dance this night and see if matchmaking is possible for you.
Extra tip for you, the moon turns perfect round on the day after mid-autumn day. Next thing you do is cut the moon cakes into fourths; don’t cut into too many pieces because it will smash, so size of four is prefect. Use toothpicks to eat the moon cakes. While you eat, talk about the origins of the Moon Festival. Moon cakes are delicious but don’t eat too much it will cause stomachache. This is a good occasion to learn more Chinese history or other countries’, either by viewing history information provided on the internet or looking at relevant history books.
Now is a good time to bring out the lanterns that you made before or fireworks you bought. Don’t forget to light or turn on the lanterns and close all the lights in the house. Enjoy the glow emitted by the lanterns. If you have floating sky lanterns, release them, if you have fireworks, light a fire. Of course, only do so if this is legal in your area, don’t do it where dry grass could catch on fire and start a wildfire. As I said before safety is the number one. Next step is the highlight of this festival.
Please check out the possibility of seeing live dragon or lion dance in your area, that I mentioned earlier in Chinatown and Alhambra, always have this performance. It is incredible and you don’t want to miss this. If there is a local Chinese dance troupe near where you live, you might be lucky enough to see a live dance and join in the celebrations with the crowd. Some people like to find a moon oriented activity, such as divining or watching the ebb and flow of a strong tide.