Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Moon Festival

It's that time of the year when the Moon Festival happens. Up front, I'll admit that I'm no expert on the Moon Festival and I've never been. The actual festival part where there are rides and fireworks and dancing bears (well, maybe not the bears) is happening tonight. "Think of it as a crap version of the Easter Show," one of my students explained.

The Royal Easter Show is pretty crap and expensive, with a gouge that begins the moment you enter. The Moon Festival doesn't contain such a long gouge, but it does have some, like any good festival. This gouge is in the form of the Moon Cake, pictured below. Rumoured to be imported from Hong Kong, it's sold in a tin of four that goes for thirty bucks, or seven and eight bucks individually. It's more if you want nice ones, less if you want what was described as the Home Brand version of Moon Cake (this was twenty bucks for four). They're about the size of a cup cake or cookie, though pretty solid by all accounts. You can read about the different kinds of Moon Cake here. I questioned the Hong Kong part, myself, pointing out that every city has bakeries and people who can make this shit, and that there'll be recipes on the web (there's one at the link, for example) and that they could get and make their own, but I was told that the good ones come from Hong Kong. Shipped over in their little tins as care packages, I imagined, only to be marked up generously before given to the needy.

Next week I might just tell my students the reason why Moon Cakes are eaten. It's pretty cool:

"Back during the Soong dynasty when the Chinese were oppressed by the Mongols, their rebel leaders sought to overthrow the Mongol overlords. As meetings were banned it was impossible to make plans. Liu Fu Tong of the Anhui Province came up with a plan by requesting permission to distribute cakes to his friends to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. He made thousands of cakes shaped like the moon and stuffed with sweet fillings. Inside each cake however was placed a piece of paper with the message: ¡¥Rise against the Tartars on the 15th day of the 8th Moon'. Reading the message, the people rose against the Mongols on a local scale. This rebellion enabled Chu Hung Wu, another rebel leader to eventually overthrow the Mongols. In 1368, he established the Ming dynasty and ruled under the name of Emperor Tai Tsu. Henceforth, the Mid Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level."
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