Expatriate Lifestyle - - A Potted Guide To -

While lanterns orig­i­nally had noth­ing to do with moon wor­ship or har­vest sea­son, they’ve be­come syn­ony­mous with the Mid-au­tumn Fes­ti­val. Tra­di­tion­ally, col­lapsi­ble candle-lit pa­per lanterns were com­mon dec­o­ra­tions and chil­dren would carry colour­ful cel­lo­phane­and-wire lanterns shaped like the 12 Chinese zo­diac an­i­mals; to­day, bat­tery-op­er­ated car­toon al­ter­na­tives in plas­tic ex­ist as well. Moon­cakes, a com­mon gift dur­ing this pe­riod, are also sym­bolic of the fes­ti­val and are said to sym­bol­ise unity. Leg­end also says that they played a cru­cial role in the Han Chinese re­bel­lion against the rul­ing Mon­gols at the end of the Yuan dy­nasty. The clas­sic moon­cake is usu­ally baked golden-brown with a red bean, lo­tus paste or mixed nut fill­ing, but modern vari­ants in­clude ‘snow skin’, jelly and even ice cream. Pome­los are also a tra­di­tional del­i­cacy dur­ing the fes­ti­val be­cause they are said to be har­vested around the MidAu­tumn pe­riod and are the Moon God­dess’ favourite fruit. Its Man­darin name, pro­nounced ‘you zi’, sounds sim­i­lar to ‘hav­ing a son’ and it’s be­lieved that eat­ing the fruit and plac­ing the rind on your head will help one’s prayer for a boy be heard.

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