My 5 Favorite Things about Mid-Autumn Festival

Tomorrow night is one of my favorite Chinese celebrations, Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節,  Zhōngqiū Jié) We celebrated over the weekend by inviting neighbors and friends over to our front yard for mooncakes, tea, a mini lantern parade and watching the beautiful new moon.

It’s a wonderful tradition that our family loves and below are the top 5 reasons why!

  1. Being outside in the evening with friends and neighbors: There’s just something magical when we string the bistro lights over the driveway, turn on candles and hang lanterns everywhere. This year it was a lovely 60 F here outside DC (although last year it was a sweaty 85!) so being with friends in the night air was lovely.

mid-autumn.jpg2. Relaxed Celebration: Our family is pretty relaxed when it comes to traditions for Mid-Autumn and that makes it such a wonderful time for all! We have lanterns, pomelos, mooncakes and tea and the moon. Not too much prep (although next year’s goal is to try to make our own mooncakes!) and not too much stress. Which brings me to…wr.png3. Mooncakes and tea! The perfect combination especially for eating outside. This year I had my first green tea filled mooncakes which were ok but I prefer the traditional red bean, or even better, egg yolk filling! We had around 25 people over to our house this year and all 3 tins of mooncakes were gone so I would say they were a hit even for those who might not be used to red bean desserts!12042608_864800218148_6737310925435934987_n4. Mid-Autumn brings up wonderful memories: My first Mid-Autumn was actually at a Chinese Church where I would later meet my husband. My friends were excited for me to try my first mooncake and I was excited too because the filling looked like chocolate. When I took a bite, I have to admit I think I excused myself to spit it out! I had no idea it was red bean filling! I’ve grown to love them now but it took a while! Another incredible memory was a few years ago when we lived in Taiwan and my daughter was 2 years old, my husband’s extended family took us on a weekend getaway to Yangmingshan mountain outside of Taipei for Mid-Autumn. The moon was beautiful and we talked and laughed outside! One tradition is to remove the inside of a pomelo (a huge green fruit like a grapefruit) and put it on a babies head. I wish I could find the picture of our auntie putting one on my daughter!

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  1. Finally, it’s a wonderful time to celebrate and share our family’s unique cultural identity as a Chinese American family. My daughter asks for weeks about when the “Mooncake Festival” will happen (priorities!) and helps me pick out the lanterns for our friends. She loves going door to door in our neighborhood and inviting neighbors. It’s just a wonderful time to celebrate being a Chinese American family and I hope we get to continue for years to come!

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Celebrating a 100 Day Birthday!

This series has taken a little bit of a hiatus but I am excited to get back to it! Today, I wanted to share with you all about a special day where we celebrate our family’s Chinese American heritage — our children’s 100 Day Celebration! It’s sometimes celebrated at the one month mark and I’ve also heard it called a Red Egg and Ginger Party. Read more to learn why!

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During ancient times when unfortunately infant mortality was high, families delayed naming their children and then celebrated their survival after a month or three months. The tradition continues today and its a way for parents to introduce the baby to family and friends.

For my daughter 4 years ago and my son 1 year ago, we drove up from Virginia to New York City where my husband’s family lives. We had a delicious meal at a big Chinese restaurant where all the aunties and uncles could meet our children for the first time. My husband’s parents gave each child a new outfit and a tiny gold ring to symbolize long life and prosperity. At the restaurant, there were red eggs (symbolizing luck and unity) and pickled ginger which is good for after childbirth. If the baby is a boy there is an even number of eggs and if its a daughter its an odd number. Not sure why!

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There has been a lot written about the tradition and if you are interested I’ll put the links below.

From a non-chinese mother’s perspective, there are lots of things I love about this tradition:

  1. It’s so fun to celebrate a baby 3 months into the their life! It’s not as stressful as taking a one month old to a restaurant and I love celebrating the child after they are born rather than a baby shower late in the pregnancy were I was often pretty uncomfortable.
  2. A 3 month old is much more alert (and smiley!) It’s a joyous occasion!
  3. You get to introduce your child to family all at once. While this can sometimes feel overwhelming, its wonderful to have the opportunity!

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To learn more:

  • Great website with lots of info on etiquette, customs etc. http://www.redeggandgingerparty.com/etiquette
  • Background on all of the special birthdays http://www.folkartchina.com/about_china/customs.html
  • Modern take on planning a 100 day party https://www.sassymamasg.com/planning-a-100-days-celebration-singapore/