Mid-Autumn Festival, also called Moon Festival is celebrated on 15th day of 8th month of Lunar Calendar, that means somewhere between end of September and beginning of October. This year it was 24th of September. It is second most important festival after Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. It is also second time I can celebrate it here.
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You know that Mid-Autumn Festival is coming already in August, or sometimes even in July, when they set up temporary shops with moon cakes around the city, advertise them on posters in MTR and offer special prices for moon cake boxes in Wellcome. Every year I’m really amazed by shapes, colours and flavours available.
Mooncakes are bought to give to others for good luck. Rarely ever would you buy it to eat it yourself. You will always find a box to share in your office and you keep on seeing it even after the festival is way over, as people just do not know what to do with them. This has actually been an issue in Hong Kong. People were interviewed by one newspaper and confessed that they end up throwing big amounts of it. Another thing is that mooncakes are rather Mainland China tradition and although still there for Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong, many young people admit they do not like it as much.
In my office, mooncakes appeared over two weeks before Mid-Autumn Festival. You always share them even if it’s the small type. We tried traditional ones – lotus filling with egg yolk flavour, we tried less traditional ones: lava cake type mooncakes and mochi skin type with modern flavours. One week before Mid-Autumn Festival, I couldn’t look at any mooncakes anymore.
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Lanterns are the part I really like about Mid-Autumn Festival. A short back story: our building is just next to a playground, where people play football and basketball or just simply exercise in the morning. They turn lights off at 23:00 every evening. Before the festival, every shop from 7-11 to supermarkets would offer lanterns in every shape and colour. Traditional ones are made of paper and have a little wire inside for a candle. Children-friendly ones would have a LED light inside and have shapes of everything that little children nowadays like. Even Peppa Pig. On the day of Mid-Autumn Festival, children go down to the playground with their lanterns and wait for the lights to come off.
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What is most important about Mid-Autumn Festival however is family gatherings. Mid-Autumn Festival is not a public holiday, however many companies would let you go 2-3 hours earlier. The day AFTER Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday, so you can sleep in after celebrations.
This year P.’s family booked a Chinese-style restaurant for a weekend before the festival. Like every other Hong Kong family, exact date and time as well as number of participants has been decided via family Whatsapp group. Restaurant has been booked for 16 people on 22nd of September. It has changed to 19 people just few days before the day.
Expecting a long and full of curiosities Chinese style dinner, I accepted the fact that McDonald’s for lunch will be my last normal meal that day. However, this year the dinner turned out to be a totally different story. P.’s family has roots in Fujian Prefecture of China, and so we went to North Point in Hong Kong to eat. North Point is full of Fujianese people and in some wet markets you need to speak their dialect to actually be able to buy anything. The dinner we had was also in a restaurant serving Fujian style dishes and to be honest, it was the best food ever! I didn’t even manage to take one photo, as I was so busy emptying out the plates.
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Sunday was the day of Fire Station barbecue meeting, where we took P.’s sisters and mother and drove all the way to Pat Heung to. We had few huge grills and mountains of foods, P.’s mother brought at least 10 kg of drinks and fruits. While we were having toasts and sausages, fire trucks were coming and going for duties. Little children were playing football and fishing out the ball from under the fire trucks every time they kicked it a bit too strong. It was a really nice family event. We could finally admire the full moon, as we should during Mid Autumn festival and breathe some less polluted air, as Pat Heung is a bit further from the city.
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My Mid-Autumn Festival 2018 has been nothing like one year before, it was also over before it actually started, as I have not done much on the actual day. We just went down to eat with P.’s family but without P. who had to work. If I were to say how to actually survive Mid-Autumn Festival, I would say just this: as for every other family dinner in Hong Kong, prepare to eat a lot! A LOT. Prepare mooncakes to give to your family, friends or colleagues at work. Never plan anything on the weekend before. Avoid going to Victoria Park or TST on the day of the festival in the evening. And just enjoy the rest!