September is one of the most eventful months for most Chinese families. Here’s what makes Mooncake Festival special…
If you’re from a Chinese school, it’s impossible for you to not have celebrated Mooncake Festival (or the Mid-Autumn Festival) or at least have tasted hopia (AKA a Mooncake). Now that physical celebrations are at a standstill, we can’t help but reminisce about the celebrations. We remember the anticipation as the dice fell into the ceramic bowl, hoping to win.
Then, there’s the laughter with friends and family when we do win. While we can’t physically celebrate with friends and family this year, we can share the nostalgia so we can look forward to it next year.
Why celebrate it?
Growing up in a Chinese family, there were a lot of celebrations. Ranging from death anniversaries and birthdays, the Mooncake Festival was the one that my cousins and I looked forward to the most. We were kids; the dice game and its prizes always caught our eyes. For my grandparents’ generation, they enjoyed watching us get along and eat Chinese food. It gave them a sense of achievement and comfort, knowing that traditions wouldn’t die and we wouldn’t forget being Chinese.
Playing the Dice Game
My grandparents and the elders said that the Mooncake Festival dice game was a form of attracting luck and passing it to the rest of the family. More superstitious ones would say that the outcome of the dice game was a summary of your year. Sometimes, they would place bets on who would win First Prize that year. Since the family was big, we splintered into three groups for three generations. Depending on which generation you’re from, prizes would also adjust.
Changes in the Mooncake Festival tradition
While some still use Hopia as the prize, my family changed it up a bit. We would raffle dining sets, electric fans, bags of chocolate, cans of Pringles, sacks of Doritos and Cheetos, stuffed toys, and even cookware! But that’s not the only tradition we changed. If someone got a certain of 6 dices with 4’s on them, tradition says they need to smash the bowl because it’s bad luck to keep it.
But, the bowls weren’t ours (it belonged to the restaurant!) so the whole smashing-the-bowl tradition was scrapped.
The Mooncake Festival’s all about celebrating the good fortune and passing it around the family
Although it’s sad that we can’t physically celebrate Mooncake Festival with family, we can try to organize an e-version. Prizes will change; maybe into money or points for something. But the family virtue remains. The Mooncake Festival’s meant to bring families together while spreading good luck and cheer. With the rough time we’ve all had, we all could use a little luck, hope, and happiness.
Happy Mooncake Festival! Hopia enjoy the months to come!