Earlier today I was reading a forum and saw someone mention that it was a Chinese holiday. Of course, I had to go figure out which holiday, because I like to know things like that. It was the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated on the 15th of the 8th lunar month, so this year it fell on today, September 19th. While the Chinese Moon Festival traditionally involved moon worship (for the harvest, etc), it’s contemporary celebration has more to do with reunions among friends and relatives, with the moon symbolizing harmony, friendship, and the unity of the family circle. Moon cakes are traditional Chinese pastries, filled with a sweet paste, that are served during the Moon Festival. Filling ranges from a salted egg yolk (which I hear is an acquired taste), to mixed nuts, and so on. It is typically served during the Moon Festival, and is eaten at night with the full moon in the sky.
After reading a bit about it, and seeing that moon cake is involved, I turned to my homeschool co-op group to find out where I could buy moon cake in the St. Louis area. They quickly pointed me to Wei Hong Bakery and another Chinese grocer not far from Wei Hong Bakery. I loaded the kids in the van, and off we went.
That’s the beauty of homeschooling. Yesterday I knew nothing about the Chinese Moon Festival. Today, I turned it into a learning experience, complete with moon cake, for my kids.
Anyway, we stopped at the Chinese grocer first, and they were sold out of moon cakes. I purchased some sesame cookies and left for Wei Hong Bakery. At the bakery, I was initially overwhelmed by the options. They had no fewer than ten varieties of moon cake, and possibly more because my eyes started swimming. I selected a pineapple moon cake, a mixed nut moon cake, and a red bean moon cake.
I called Hubs and asked him to pick up Chinese take out on his way home from work. When the kids and I got home, I explained the tradition of the Chinese Moon Festival and explained that they would get to stay up late so that we could go out and see the moon together. I explained to them that the moon symbolizes the unity of the family circle and that our love as a family is unbroken. Our moon cakes happened to be a circle, which they thought was pretty cool, too.
Finally, the time came to eat the moon cakes, and boy were they excited.
As it turned out, the less sweet moon cakes weren’t much to their liking. The consistency of the filling is much like that of a pecan pie. The pineapple filling tasted like jellied pineapple juice, and while it tasted good, the kids couldn’t get past the texture. Hubs liked the mixed nut best, and I really liked the red bean and the mixed nut. After eating our moon cake, we went outside to see the moon.
It was such a beautiful night. We’ve been studying creation over the last two weeks, so the kids immediately tied in the fact that God made the moon to light the night, and that we should thank Him for it.
I want to teach the kids about the various cultures that surround us here in St. Louis. I had planned to start in 2014, but who can pass up a reason for cake and cookies?
Next year, I think we’ll make paper lanterns, too.