One of the best ways to raise bilingual and bicultural children is to introduce them to the important festivals of the country. If you have a bi-cultural/ multicultural family like mine, there are many things you can do with your family to celebrate the Moon Festival (the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Harvest Festival) like a pro. Here are 7 suggestions I have for you to celebrate the Moon Festival this year.
Get Together With Your Loved Ones
In China, the Moon Festival is the time of the year when people get together with their family. Although most of my family members are in Hong Kong, I always tried to celebrate it with other Americans or expats who do care about it. I encourage you to do it too, so that your bicultural children do not feel alone. Sometimes, I visit activities hosted by a Chinese church close by. This year, I am joining a local community called Families with Children from China to have a picnic in the park. The key is always to spend it with your loved ones (and possibly some more)!
Get a Festive Lantern or Make One from a Chinese Grapefruit Yourself
That’s right! Growing up, choosing a lantern (and candles) was a BIG deal! My mother would only let us pick one or two each year. If you pick the wrong one, you might need to be stuck with it for the rest of the year (or God forbid, you will have it for longer than a year!) However, that’s not even the most fun part, the most fun part was that it’s the ONLY time of the year that children are allowed to play with candles/ fire (under supervision).
If you can’t buy one here in America, just make a lantern yourself from a Chinese Grapefruit! They are the best to shield the candles from the wind when you are out in the park.
Eat Mooncakes and Seasonal Fruits
Mooncakes are a traditional pastry for the Moon Festival. It can be sweet or salty with some sweet lotus paste inside the pastry. With modern mooncakes, you can have green tea ice-cream, hazelnut ice-crean, red-bean ice-cream inside. You name it! Seasonal fruits include Star-fruits, Chinese Grapefruits, Chinese Pears, Persimmons, etc. If you are determined enough, I am sure that you can always find them in the Asian groceries stores in your town.
Learn the Traditional Tales Again
Unlike Santa Claus of Christmas, I have yet to meet a Hong Kong person who truly believed in these as a child. I guess we are not as “superstitious” as Americans in that sense. (Yes, you are right, it was a cultural shock to me when I found that some highly religious Christian households trying to wrestle with how to give “the talk” about Santa Claus as they crush some imaginative minds.) Honestly, I have heard numerous incomplete, traditional tales about the Moon Festival growing up. There are so many people in so many different provinces of China, telling a slightly different folk story about the Moon Festival that it feels like an unending project at times.Make it your project with your family as well this year! Learning about Chang’e, Houyi, and WuGang can be like your Chinese Folklore 101, just like how I had to learn about Zeus and Aphrodite when I first came to America.
Read Moon Poems
As an American-Hong-Kongese (as opposed to Asian-American or American-born Chinese, I am just a very Americanized person from Hong Kong), I have my fair share of obsession about the moon. I know, our culture LOVES the moon! We grew up with cartoons about the moon. I also grew up memorizing moon-related poems. Check out 水調歌頭 and 靜夜思. You will find your Moon Festival a lot more artistic!
Listening to Moon-related songs
One of the most beautiful moon-related poems becoming a song is called 但願人長久. There is a more traditional version from Teresa Tang and a more modern version from Faye Wong. Teresa Tang has another very classic love song from the 70s called 月亮代表我的心(The Moon Represents My Heart). Those are all some of my top favorites as an expat for Moon Festival.
Gaze at the Moon!
Have your children experience it themselves! They might not understand it now (just like your music appreciation class when you were young), but let them enjoy the wonderful nature! It can be very enjoyable. Moreover, there will be a very special SUPERMOON ECLIPSE this year! So, don’t miss it the chance to teach your children culture, astronomy, literature, music, and most importantly, creating memories as a family!