Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So long to Moon Cakes and Ghosts

For weeks, each time we rounded a corner during a neighborhood walk the smells of incense would crash into our noses and smoke would make our eyes water. Men hover around burn barrels by themselves or in small groups with piles and piles of fake money in their hand. But this is no monopoly game gone bad. The pleasing of the deceased is at stake. According to some beliefs, the gates to the underworld are opened up for a month of the year allowing the ghosts to come wander freely through their old haunts. Imagine the night mares some people must have at this time of the year. No, I didn't mean to harm him, wait, what was that sound...

The incense, burning "money" and other offerings represent items the ghosts may want and the possibility of an earth-bound person to have a prosperous year. As stacks of money turn to ash, we wonder how a life on earth can be better spent in the service of others and those around us.

Photo taken on the block

As the ghosts began the retreat home, stories of the moon began to surface. The fall harvest moon and the Moon Festival are linked together. This year, it happened that the autumnal equinox was also on the 22nd for a large day of celebration. I asked many students about the origin of the moon festival and the answers revolved around stories of bunny rabbits, secret potions, cake and the moon. In addition, legend has it that at some point in Chinese history the Mongols were in charge and in order to plan an uprising, moon cakes were distributed throughout the country in order to coordinate a day of revolution. Today, these secret messages are replaced in the center of a moon cake with an egg yolk or other interesting surprise. Yum...

No comments:

Post a Comment