I had a four-day weekend last weekend because of the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), which along with the Chinese Lunar New Year is one of the two most important holidays in Taipei. Like the U.S.’s Thanksgiving, the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a time to celebrate togetherness and abundance. Many overseas-born people of Chinese extraction like me, however, know it better as that time of the year when our houses are inundated with tons and tons and tons of mooncakes that we will never, ever eat. I might add that I’ve never met a single person, Chinese or otherwise, who actually looks forward to mooncakes. They are too sweet, too rich and leave your teeth coated with little bits of red bean paste. The only part I like is the egg yolk in the middle, or the “moon,” which I used to dig out with a knife and eat, leaving the eviscerated bodies behind in my wake for my parents to discover.
Anyway, this brings me to my favorite Mid-Autumn Festival memory. The central story of the holiday is the tale of Chang’e, who, following a contretemps with her immortal husband, fled to the moon. One year, I decided to offer my leftover, ungouged mooncakes to Chang’e. I left them at the sliding door to our backyard, where the moon shone in at night. In the morning, I eagerly ran down downstairs, certain that Chang’e would have floated down in the middle of the night and taken the mooncakes. I was devastated when I saw them sitting there, untouched, in their tin box and started sobbing and carrying on. My mother told me that since Chang’e was a spirit, she would have only taken the spirit of the mooncakes. That calmed me down considerably and I spent the rest of the afternoon merrily digging out egg yolks.
I don’t have any interesting Mid-Autumn Festival pictures, because I stayed in Taipei to spend more time with Ron. We went to the Xinyi District to watch “Knocked Up” at Warner Village. It was interesting to see what Ron and I laughed at, versus the rest of the Taiwanese audience who were reading the Chinese subtitles. I think I was the only one howling at the Ryan Seacrest cameo. The photo to the left is of Taipei 101, which was lit up in red for the festival.
Teacher’s Day occurred a few days later on September 28. My class gave our teacher a card and huge bag of fruit. Here are some pictures from Shida’s Confucius Memorial Ceremony, at the Confucius statue in front of the Mandarin Training Center. This reminds me of my favorite teacher’s day memory from my childhood. In fourth grade, I carefully picked out the reddest, shiniest apple I could find at the grocery store and brought it to my teacher the next morning. At lunchtime, she came up to me and said, “Thank you, Catherine, for the beautiful apple. It was juicy and delicious.” “YOU ATE MY APPLE, MY BEAUTIFUL RED SHINY APPLE!?!” I screamed internally. And that was the last time I ever brought any of my grade school teachers an apple.