Friday, September 21, 2007

Chinese Moon Festival

This year, the Chinese Moon Festival falls on September 25th.

So, do cats love moon cakes? Find the surprising answer to this admittedly enigmatic problem.

First, consider this question:

Do cats celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival?

The short answer is “no.”

The long answer, alas, is also “no.”

But some cats, like Sammy, enjoy putting their paws into the box of moon cakes. (See accompanying photo. Not recommended for santitary reasons.) Others, like my late cat Saki, loved to eat the sweet bean jam inside the moon cakes. (Not recommended for feline health reasons.)I once had a pure white Taiwanese cat who loved to eat bean-jam filled moon cakes and chew gum. But that's another story for another time, not the Chinese Moon Festival.

In case you don’t know, let me back track a bit and explain what the Chinese Moon Festival is.

Some people compare the festival to the American Thanksgiving. Chinese families gather together to give thanks for the bountiful harvest, at least in theory. Like Thanksgiving, the Chinese Moon Festival involves a big feast. Instead of pumpkin pie, you eat moon cakes. At least, that’s the theory.

Like the moon, the cakes are round in shape. Unlike the moon, the moon cakes are moist yet flaky and a bit greasy to the touch. Special designs for the Chinese Moon Festival are pressed on the top. I don’t remember what they are, as I’m generally eat them without looking. The moon cakes have different fillings, such as sweet, red bean jam (my favorite and the favorite of several cats I’ve had), lotus seed jam, coconut, nuts, or meat (my father’s favorite). You can also get the kind that has egg yolk in the center of the filling to represent the full moon of the Chinese Autumn Festival.

The roundness of these cakes symbolizes togetherness. As the saying goes, Yuè yuán (the moon is round), rén yuán (people are round). In other words, “When the moon is round, families reunite.” That is the true meaning of the Chinese Moon Festival, or so I am told.

Almost every Chinese I’ve met hates eating moon cakes. (I think I love them only because they are high in calories.) But they love the barbecues they have on the night of the Chinese Moon Festival.

Children love the moon festival because they can make—or buy—paper lanterns that they can carry on the fifteenth night of the eighth lunar moon, when the moon is supposed to be at its brightest and roundest to go moon gazing on hilltops and mountains.

Have yourself a well-rounded Chinese Moon Festival!

Read more about The Chinese Moon Festival

No comments: