中秋节 Mid-Autumn Festival in Foshan

Tomorrow is October 4th- Mid-Autumn festival in China- meaning big family meals, glutinous mooncakes and lanterns! I’m out in a small village near Foshan to celebrate with family.

It’s custom to bring moon cakes and gift them to family members, hence the crazy amount of sales going on in the streets of Guangzhou over the past couple of days:

Mooncakes are round pastries, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be filled with either:

  • 白莲蓉 báilián lotus seed paste,
  • 红豆沙 hóng dòu shā red bean paste
  • 五仁 wǔ rén five nuts and meat-based pork variety.

Personally, I love the red bean paste variety – as there’s no 咸蛋 (salted egg) in the middle to ruin the experience.

As with many traditional festivals around the world, companies are quick to jump in on the action and commercialize proceedings. Haagen Dazs is huge here in China. It’s seen as a luxury brand, and their mooncakes stay true to this concept with their £70 ice cream mooncakes sets:

Starbucks also get involved, of course:

The cakes, like a standard chinese dining table, are round, symbolizing unity and reunion – and are shared between family members as gifts when they return to their hometowns. We brought some modern Four Seasons Hotel mooncakes, and they went down a treat.

After breakfast, we set off to 外婆 wàipó (maternal) grandma’s house to give her some mooncakes. She lives a short drive raway, in an older part of a small village:

The houses here are beautiful old fashioned red brick buildings. Though they have electricity and internet, many of them still have water pumps and wells located in the middle of the house:

At grandma’s house, we lit three incense sticks each and gave our respects to grandad’s shrine by praying three times.

Side note: three is the magic number for the incense sticks as they represent 天地人。天=sky , 地= earth, 人= people. Heaven and earth and the people. Three bows are for the three gods:

  • 元始天尊 yuán shǐ tiān zūn (lord of heaven and controller of the past)
  • 灵宝天尊 líng bǎo tiān zūn (celestial of the primordial spirit)
  • 道德天尊 dào dé tiān zūn (celestial of morality

After this, we went over to see a relative’s new house they’d built nearby, before going to a local restaurant for a huge meal.

Wishing you all a wonderful mid-autumn Festival! 祝你中秋节快乐!

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