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Experiencing the Mid-Autumn Festival

During the Mid-Autumn Festival I had the opportunity to travel to Tianjin, a sister city of Beijing. I celebrated this holiday with a friend’s family and was able to experience the way the locals celebrate such a big and important festival. Come join me for our own virtual tour of the Mid-Autumn Festival! We arrived in Tianjin in mid-morning. We met everyone and went out for a lunch. After lunch we went to explore the city before we needed to start the preparations for the evening. We did a little shopping and mostly sight seeing. The city was bustling with people purchasing last minute gifts, going on dates with their significant other, showing children games, and elderly out enjoying the weather and sights. It was amazing!After our little afternoon excursion we went to the home of our hosts. Not long after, preparations for a feast commenced. Tianjin is next to the sea and as such is a hot spot for fresh sea food. I helped prepare crabs, shrimp and baozi. Baozi is a bread dough stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, vegetables and spices. Many are steamed while others are flattened and pan fried.

As the afternoon gave way to evening, we were ready to sit down to eat. The table was crowded with dishes. Crabs, shrimp, chicken, eggs, baozi, fruit and many other delicacies threatened to toppled from their careful stacks on their respective platters. It was a true Chinese feast.

Once the dishes were demolished, the dessert was brought out: the famous moon cakes. Moon cakes are a rich, toothsome dessert for the Chinese. While not as sweet, I consider a rich New York Style Cheesecake to be the American equivalent. With variety of flavors available, there is great wisdom in cutting up the moon cakes to share and sample the many and diverse flavors.

I think my favorite flavor was the white lotus seed. The flavor is mild, light and slightly nutty. The texture is smooth and almost creamy. Should you ever have the opportunity to try a moon cake, seize it! Consider them a type of treasure, Chinese confectionary treasure steeped with rich history and colorful folklore.

To wrap up the evening, everyone filed outside for a short display of fireworks. I quickly learned that the Chinese have two classifications of fireworks: the ones formulated for light displays and the ones formulated for noise. Big noise! Think a sound so big you can feel it reverberate inside your own chest. Our hosts preferred the later and I found as the fireworks exploded before us that I seemed to have developed a second heart beat. A heartbeat that matched pops, bangs and booms of the fireworks.

Not long after, the evening celebration simmered to a close. As I made my way back to where I was staying for the night I crossed over the Hai River. What a sight! At that moment I sincerely regretted not carrying my camera. Hundreds of red lanterns were floating up from the river banks, their little hearts of flame flickering from inside! They flowed upwards to dance between the sky scrapers. It was a spectacular sight and the perfect conclusion to my first Mid-Autumn Festival in China.

Looking back, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a grand fusion of a Thanksgiving feast, the fireworks of the 4th of July and the gift giving that accompanies Christmas. I marvel at the grandness of the festival and now find myself impatient for the biggest celebration here in China: the lunar calendar New Year.

In the mean time, we will enjoy our current expeditions here on Adventures with the Sage. Stay tuned! You never know when, or where, our next adventure might be!


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