Moon Festival or more properly Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) is one of the two biggest festivals in Asian culture. It is a time for family, thankfulness, and prayers. Some say it is the Asian equivalent to Thanksgiving in America. Moon Festival is a lunar holiday which is held each year on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month during a full moon.
There are many different stories and traditions which surround Moon Festival. I am going to focus on the ones we participated in this year.
Traditional Stories:In my class, we watched the story of The Ten Suns. It was one of the easier stories for my young students to understand. If you would like to hear more of the traditional stories you can visit my Moon Festival Playlist on Youtube.com.
Pomelos:Other popular Moon Festival traditions center around the Pomelo. Pomelos are a citrus fruit which can range in size from a grapefruit to as large as a human head! The majority of Pomelos are harvested around Moon Festival and are very, very common. This is part of the reason that they are used to symbolize good luck/good fortune, bountifulness, family/fertility, and more. According to China Post, this is how you know you are picking a good pomelo: "Old farmers say choosing a delicious pomelo is like finding a good wife - it should be cute, not too big, have an oval face and round bottom."
Mooncakes:Mooncakes are very common gifts to give and receive during Moon Festival. They symbolize family unity and togetherness. Traditionally, mooncakes were made by you in your home and then given to friends. This tradition has given way to commercialism and most mooncakes are now purchased but the meaning is still the same.
My students and I made a very simplified version of mooncakes (more like cookies) in class this week. It was a fun activity for them, and according to one of the Taiwanese teachers it is a unique experience that they may never have again. If you watch the making of a traditional mooncake video on my playlist, you will know why we did a simplified version in my kindergarten class! If you are interested in making mooncakes with your children, you can find the recipe we used on DLTK.
Lanterns:Lanterns play a minor role in Moon Festival versus their major role during Lantern Festival. However, you can see lanterns and lantern parades during Moon Festival. One of the traditions is to write a riddle on a paper lantern, go around, and try to have people solve your riddle. My class made lanterns but skipped the riddles :)
BBQ!:Moon Festival is a major BBQ holiday in Taiwan! Families and friends get together, eat, and enjoy one another's company. It's not like BBQ in the United States but it is definitely delicious--plus it's lots of fun! This is our family's favorite part of Moon Festival because we love nothing more than spending time with all the friends we have made and love here in Taiwan.
What I'm Thankful for this Moon Festival:
This is a tradition that I have carried over from my family back home. I wanted to stop for a moment and remember to be thankful on a holiday that was originally designated to that purpose. So before digging in I want to share what I am thankful for this year...
#1 My Family - Jimmy and I are so blessed to have Noelle. We waited for her and prayed for her for a long, long time before she actually came into our lives. Now we don't know what we would do without her. We are also thankful for our family back home who support us as we live and teach in Taiwan.
#2 New Opportunities - Jimmy and I both started at a new school this fall. So far we love it! It's nice to see Jimmy actually be happy at his school and not miserable. It's really nice that he has finally found a good fit.
#3 A Bright Future - We don't know what the future holds for us but we know it is full of endless possibilities and we look forward to each and every one of them!