Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节)

I’m in Hong Kong!!! I have many things to write about and not much time to do it, so, being my logical self, I am going to start from the most recent chain of events and work backwards.

So, the Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival) is a Chinese harvest festival, celebrated on the fifteen day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. Traditionally, the festival has been centered around gathering the family to celebrate that the harvest is over. Another important part of the festival is moon worship – an old Chinese fairy tale tells the story of Chang’e, the moon goddess, and Houyi.

In the ancient past, there was a hero named Houyi who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang’e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Houyi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light. An immortal admired Houyi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Houyi did not want to leave Chang’e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang’e keep the elixir. But Feng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Houyi went hunting, Feng Meng broke into Houyi’s house and forced Chang’e to give the elixir to him. Chang’e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved her husband very much and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Houyi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang’e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learned about these activities, and since they also were sympathetic to Chang’e they participated in these sacrifices with Houyi.

The Moon Goddess Chang'e

The Moon Goddess Chang’e.

In a different version of the story, Chang’e stole the elixir from Houyi because she did not want her husband to be immortal without her.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is still one of the most important Chinese festivals, and is celebrated widely in Hong Kong.

Mooncakes are a big part of the Mid-Autumn festival. They are round cakes – hence the name mooncakes, filled with egg yolks and lotus paste. In some parts of China it is normal to gather the family to make mooncakes the night before the festival. In Hong Kong, no-one has time for this, so they are normally purchased a week or so before the festival. There are many types of mooncakes (Haagen-Dazs does some really nice ice cream mooncakes), with many different flavours and colours. In Hong Kong, the Mid-Autumn festival celebrations often take place at night (the day after the festival is a public holiday). Mooncake tins are then used to keep lit candles in.

Traditional mooncakes.

Traditional mooncakes.

So, Monday the 15th was our first day of actual school at LPC. In the evening, Eira (Sweden) headed out with the intention of going to Victoria Park to celebrate with some others from LPC. We took the MTR to Ma On Shan with the intention of taking a bus from there (while all the other LPC people took the MTR). We had no luck when it came to finding the bus stop though, so we decided to stop for an hour and a half to eat ramen. This is Eira:

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Eventually a lovely HK couple walked us all the way to the right bus stop, and we went to Victoria Park. Victoria Park was beautifully lit, with lanterns and glowsticks everywhere. It was crowded though, so after walking through a field of people sitting with candles, mooncakes and lanterns, we decided to go shopping. Eventually we ended up in SoHo and just wandered around until we had to make our way back to campus.

And then today has been a very relaxed day – a trip to Ikea, a trip to MOS (Ma On Shan) for stationary and then a couple of hours of badminton with Tiffany (my Hong Kong roommate) and Lyndon (USA).

So, until the next blog post (which will probably be about Orientation Week and arrival in Hong Kong) – goodbye!

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