Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holiday Time in China: Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day

Red Lanterns are out for Mid-Autumn Festival

Hello and welcome back to another installment of my blog! I've been very busy over the last couple of weeks with my new job, living matters, and finally, social matters (experiencing all that Shanghai has to offer and believe me, this could take awhile). At the end of September/ early October, China had two important national holidays: The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day which I was able to experience like a native (meaning days off and consuming traditional food just like a local). Read on to find out more about these holidays.

 Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节):

Celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calender (Mid September to Mid October on the Gregorian calender, this year it fell on September 30th), the Mid-Autumn Festival is a very old, yet revered holiday in China.   Families across China gather together on this day and exchange stories, consume a traditional meal; drink tea; and indulge themselves on moon cakes under the light of the full moon.

A very, very large moon cake
Moon cakes are pretty much the star of the Mid Autumn Festival holiday.  Moon cakes are medium sized pastries traditionally filled with lotus seed or red bean paste. Moon cakes come in a variety of fillings and flavors, mostly nuts and fruits, but in recent years, there have been some interesting flavors such as ice cream.

Lotus Seed Flavor-these were $50USD per box

Even Dairy Queen got into the Moon Cake Spirit!

Starting as early as August, stores and bakeries begin advertising the availability of moon cakes and the Chinese go wild! They can be found individually wrapped and sold or, in a box set of six or more.  Prices range from a mere 30 cents all the way up to several hundred dollars for fancy box sets or incredibly large ones. During my first few weeks here, I couldn't help but notice many people walking around with bags and boxes of moon cakes. I was fascinated and eager to try one, but I patiently waited until the  holiday time to make my move (my workplace graciously bestowed me with one before the vacation).

Moon Cake display at one of the shopping centers
In terms of taste, I found some varieties to be a bit more edible than others. I was enjoying a five nut flavor until I noticed a walnut and I immediately had to dispose of it (I'm allergic to walnuts), and unfortunately, I missed out on the ice cream ones.  Overall, it was an interesting experience and  when in China, do as the Chinese do and (try to) eat what the Chinese eat!

A moon cake parting gift from an expat dinner I attended

National Day(国庆节):
Celebrated on October 1st, National Day celebrates the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) by Mao Zedong.  Since the PRC was founded on October 1, 1949, this year marked the 63rd anniversary.  Around Shanghai, I saw displays commemorating the anniversary which ranged from posters, garden displays and musical performances on t.v. On National Day, the streets were full of people carrying flags, wearing red, and fireworks.

63rd Anniversary Commemoration Display

How did I spend these holidays?
 To be honest I didn't do much. On Mid Autumn Festival night, I had dinner with friends (which turned into a sleepover) and consumed a couple of mini moon cakes I had purchased earlier that day (which were not that great tasting). For National Day, I slept in, heard fireworks (I could not locate them) and spent the night singing loads of songs at  KTV (Karaoke) which was incredibly fun.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading and leave some comment love :)

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