One of my reasons for moving to Hong Kong was to experience a different culture and have a bit of an adventure. My first few weeks here did not present many (or any) opportunities for either oft these things. This left me feeling rather disillusioned with my choice. Fortunately, some culture reared its head recently in the form of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mid-Autumn Festival is basically a harvest festival. You can read up on the roots of it on Wikipedia.
Modernisation of the festival has brought moon cakes to the fore front of the festival. These are baked ‘cakes’ filled with paste and egg yolks. Naturally, we tried one. The symbolism of a moon cake centres on the egg yolk in the cake as it is supposed to emulate the moon. They vary in size and filling. We had a moon cake filled with lotus seed paste and three egg yolks. Here’s a cross section of the cake to give you an idea of them from the inside out.
It’s an odd texture and taste overall. I wasn’t particularly fond of it. The egg yolk was actually rather revolting. It seemed to be in layers and, when eaten, disintegrated into particles. Very odd indeed and really not appetising. I shan’t be hanging my liver out for another moon cake any time soon.
Another tradition of Mid-Autumn Festival is to light lanterns. Big lanterns, small lanterns, electric lanterns, candle lanterns, lanterns that look like something, lanterns that don’t look like anything…. literally, every kind of lantern you can think of. We headed off to Victoria Park which held the main lantern attraction in Hong Kong. It was called the Lee Kum Kee lantern wonderland and really was quite impressive. Here’s a snap of the structure with the full moon shining in the back ground.
On the inside, there were many, many more lanterns and lights. It really was a joy to behold. This is a snap of the inside.
We queued for about 40 minutes to get inside the structure and it was worth the wait as we managed to be inside whilst the music and lights show took place. The music was suitably inconspicuous but blended really beautifully with the changing light colours. The music and lights only happened once every 15 minutes so we were pleased we caught it. I managed to film a section of it. There is also marginally amusing commentary.
There were plenty of other sections to the festivities in Victoria park including an entertainment village. The village was packed to capacity so I couldn’t get in to take any photos but we did manage to get close to the stage. The stage was home to a variety of acts throughout the evening. We saw traditional dancing and also some acrobats in our time there. Here’s a taste of some dancing we watched.
A little further along the park there were wishing lanterns. You could hang a completed wishing card from the structure. I, unfortunately, did not have wishing card to hand so I just took a picture of how it looked instead.
There were also over sized lanterns around the park too. My favourite was the rather un-scary and pink dragon. You can just see the green (and rather more scary) bat in the background.
Lastly, there was a row of shops opposite a large staging area. The shops were mostly food and drink but there were a few other stalls with lanterns and small crafting items. The staging area was for the Tai Hang Fire Dragon dance. The area wasn’t really very well set up for crowds. The video screen was at floor level, it had not been raised so when the crowd got a few people deep, anyone under 6 feet tall could not see a thing. The staging area was blocked from view, as was the screen. It was actually a huge disappointment to have waited for so long and to be able to see nothing. The best view I got was by taking photographs of the screen and then review the photos. This didn’t last long however, as my camera battery died. The best snap I got was this one. This is a picture of the dragons head as it was being adorned with various bits of incense and ribbon.
There was approximately 45 minutes of dragon preparation where various people and groups adorned it with incense and gifts. Once the dragon was stuck up with incense sticks and lit, the dancers performed. I can’t comment on the performance I couldn’t see it. We were so agitated by the lack of view, we left about 10 minutes in. We were gutted.
Despite the disappointment of the fire dragon dance, I still thoroughly enjoyed my Mid-Autumn festival in Hong Kong.