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How to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Taiwan

2015/09/24 15:48

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) The annual Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) celebration of the harvest moon in the Chinese lunar calendar is a time when families reunite to worship the moon and the coming of fall, and those in the Western Hemisphere will have the added bonus of a rare super blood moon this year.

The moon festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, which this year is Sept. 27, and there will be a three-day national holiday in Taiwan to celebrate the festival from Sept. 26-28.

●Moon gazing spots

The harvest moon is often, but not always, the largest full moon of the year, and for those in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Africa this year it's a super moon, which means it most closely coincides with perigee -- the moon's closest point to Earth in its orbit.

The Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Africa will also be treated with a blood moon, meaning that there will be a full lunar eclipse, giving it a deep red hue.

Unfortunately, at the time of the super moon and eclipse during the evening of Sept. 27 in the Eastern U.S., it will be too low on the horizon to be observed in Taiwan, where it will be daylight.

(CNA file photo)

In Taipei, the most picturesque spots to view the full moon in the evening of Sept. 27 include Yangmingshan, Daan Park, Danshui Fisherman's Wharf and Maokong.

Other good viewing spots around the island include Wuling Farm in Taichung, Alishan in Chiayi County, Anping in Tainan, Sizhi Bay in Kaohsiung, Nanwan in Pingtung, and Dongshan River Water Park in Yilan.

●Activities

In Taiwan, the celebration consists mainly of eating moon cakes, pomelos, and BBQ. In recent years, the most popular way for people to mark the occasion is to gather with friends and relatives and barbecue on the sidewalk in front of one's house or business, in public parks, and along riverside parks.

During the moon festival holiday, the Taipei city government will open up a total of 20 riverside parks to allow public barbecuing. One of the most popular is Dajia Riverside Park, which is in sight of Dazhi Bridge and the Grand Hotel.

On the south side of the city next to Huazhong Bridge is the Huazhong Riverside Park, the country's largest riverside campsite, able to accommodate 800 campers.

(CNA file photo)

If you're looking for free food and entertainment, check out your community park, because chances are they will have some free food such as barbecued wild boar and offer live musical performances and the chance to sing Taiwanese KTV songs. The details about public park festivities will be listed on your neighborhood and apartment complex bulletin boards.

Like all important events in the lunar calendar, the pious visit temples and offer prayers during this time, but there are not many special temple fairs or other events in the temples on the island in comparison with other times of year such as the Lunar New Year or Ghost Month.

Unlike other parts of the world that observe the lunar calendar, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan does not have much in the way of major lantern displays during the Moon Festival. The best times to catch a glimpse of lanterns in Taiwan are on the 15th day of first month of the lunar year (元宵節, Chinese Lantern Festival), when you can see the sky lanterns in Pingxi in New Taipei, and during the Ghost Festival (中元節) on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, when you can see the water lanterns in Keelung.

●Moon cakes

There are conflicting theories over the origin of moon cakes. Many attribute them to the moon goddess Chang'e (嫦娥) , who legend has it took an immortality elixir and floated to the moon. The other theory is that the moon cakes were distributed to all Han Chinese with a hidden message telling them to rebel against the Mongols during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

In addition to the moon, the round shape of the cake also symbolizes unity for Chinese families and the mid-Autumn Festival is a time for relatives to gather together.

(CNA file photo)

Five kernel and roast pork is the most traditional flavor, with a mixture of five types of nuts and seeds and pork. Those with a red bean paste are a sweeter variety. Lotus seed paste is also common, often with the added surprise of a duck egg filling. Another sweet variety is jujube paste, which is made with red dates and has a dark red hue. Egg yolk moon cakes are another traditional variety, and are filled with a whole, salted egg yolk, which is placed in the center to symbolize the moon.

Modern variants of moon cakes now have an ever-changing plethora of flavors to suit modern tastes, such as green tea, chocolate, cream cheese, durian and various flavors of ice cream.

(By Keoni Everington)ENDITEM/J