For good Feng Shui chi, celebrating the Harvest Moon, Moon Cake or Autumn Moon Festival is a wonderful way to rejoice, giving thanks for the blessings we have in this world. Today is the day of the Full Moon, the time traditionally set for the festival. Due to the popularity of the event and the extent of the festivities, San Francisco expanded it to a whole weekend.
I found a book in San Francisco's Chinatown several years ago that delighted me at the time of the Moon Festival. It shared interesting tips about the celebration including Moon Cakes. Since I was in Chinatown, I decided to look for bakeries selling Moon Cakes. I found several of them. I purchased a couple different flavors and delightfully indulged.
One of the Moon Cakes I purchased had a red bean paste in it. That one wasn't very sweet, yet very yummy!
Another I purchased was filled with lotus seed paste. Roughly the size of my palm, it was so large and filling I couldn't eat it all. Not only does it contain the lotus seed paste, there are either one or four egg yolks inside.
The salty yolk represents the full moon. I ate it and must agree I need more time to acquire a taste for it. The more elaborate versions contain four egg yolks that represent the four phases of the moon.
There are many stories as to when and how the Moon Festival started that you can look up on the web. I'm going to share a few ceremonial customs I've remembered and enjoyed through the years.
The Moon Festival, which is also called the Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eight month of the Chinese lunar calendar. That means it falls on the Full Moon each year.
Through my life, especially living here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have been fortunate to see the Harvest Full Moon several times as it peeks its head over the ridge of the East Bay Foothills. When I am driving Highway 280 in the Burlingame area by the San Francisco Airport, the reflection of the moon on the bay is nothing less than stunning. When I find one of the many pictures I've taken through the years, I'll share it.
The Harvest Moon sometimes falls at the Autumn equinox, adding to the mystical essence of the season. One year I enjoyed a Harvest Moon feast of corn, squash and apples. I remember thinking this might have been how the Native Americans felt during their harvest ceremonies.
One of the Chinese Moon Festival stories talks about the Moon Fairy, or Moon Goddess, who lived in a crystal palace and came out to dance on the moon. Another story says this is the day the "man in the moon" was discovered. Both of these stories delight the child in me. I wish I had grown up in a culture or community that celebrated this astrological moment. Now I realize I must put it on the calendar to share with my grandsons in hopes they might enjoy the experience.
One of the tidbits I gleaned about the festival celebrated in San Francisco's Chinatown deals with an event I personally experienced. It was the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
According to the article, "The Chinatown Merchants Association was established in 1991 to bring attention back to Chinatown as a great place to visit." As I shared, having personally experienced the earthquake by living only 3 miles from the epicenter, I vividly remember the state of mind I was in as well as the state of the economy in San Francisco. It was rather dismal.
Having shared that, I just thought of something. Maybe we need to celebrate the Harvest Moon/Moon Cake Festival in our country right now. Things seem to be rather dismal with many people living in fear.
What if we were to honor the Autumn equinox with joy and exuberance? What if we were to celebrate Moon Cakes filled with egg yolks representing the fullness of the moon and our lives? What if we were to honor the harvest of friends, family and full lives we live and blend with it the mystical and magical essence of the season?
I wonder, what if...?