I have now been in Taiwan for a little over a month, and I have already discovered many differences between American and Taiwan namely, the food, home life, school, and holidays. This week was Taiwan’s Mid-Autumn festival and National holiday. American doesn’t have these holidays, but I think that the Mid- Autumn festival and the National holiday is a lot like our Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. In this article, I will describe Taiwan’s traditions surrounding these holidays, the history, and my experience with them in Taiwan.
Mid-Autumn festival falls in the middle of Autumn. Taiwan’s holidays followed the lunar calendar, and every year Mid-Autumn festival is on the 15th day of the eighth month when the moon is full. China and Taiwan both believe that the moon is very beautiful and important. China’s most famous poem is called 静夜思 (Thoughts on a Silent Night), and in the poem author 李白is far away from home and when he sees the beauty of the full moon he wishes for home. On Mid-Autumn festival the whole family comes to eat together. Because family comes from all over to eat together, I think this festival is a lot like our Thanksgiving.
On the Mid- Autumn festival, everyone is supposed to eat mooncakes and pomelos, and many people also grill meat outside. Pomelos are important because they are round, much like the full moon. Mooncakes come in all flavors and sizes, but they must be round. Most mooncakes have some sort of fruit flavor and are sweet. My mom and I made MANY mooncakes over the past two weeks and they came in four different flavors: taro, cranberry, sesame, and cappuccino. We put nuts, sweet potatoes, cheese, and processed egg yolk in the inside. Yummy!
The Mid-Autumn festival is a national holiday, so we don’t have school. Our eight NSLI-Y students along with our host families all went to a park together for a picnic. Everyone brought food from home to share. In the morning, I helped my family make Guacamole. We also brought avocado milk, mooncakes, and dragon fruit to the picnic. Under the palm trees, we had our picnic. We played badminton, Uno, walked around the lake, and talked. Even though it is the middle of autumn, it is still really hot in Kaohsiung, about 33 degrees!
This weekend was the National Day for Taiwan. National Day is on the 10th of October every year, and everyone has off of work/school. But because National Day fell on a Tuesday this year, we got a four day weekend. The problem was that since the Monday wasn’t an official holiday, we had to go to school the previous Saturday to make up for it. It was awful!
On the National Day many people like to travel. I went with my host family to visit our grandparents in Meinong. Meinong is right next to Kaohsiung, about a 30 minute car ride. Meinong is a small farmer village that grows bananas and papayas. Meinong is home to many Haka people. Haka is a minority group of Taiwan, and they speak Hakanese. I don’t understand any of it. My grandfather speaks Hakanese, Taiwanese (another dialect), Mandarin, and Japanese, but my grandmother only speaks Hakanese and doesn’t speak any Mandarin. My grandparents like in a rustic farm house with many bananas and papayas.
Yesterday, we grilled meat for dinner with my grandparents, my aunt, and my aunts friends. My favorite meat was the sausage, because it reminded me of Wisconsin’s brats. Besides the sausage, we cooked squid, fish, bacon, pig heart, octopus, and pork.
Today we had homemade hotpot for lunch, and now everyone is resting because Kaohsiung is still really hot and my grandparents house does not have an air conditioner. This afternoon we’re going to play badminton and eat Meinong’s famous banana shaved ice. Tomorrow we are going home to do all of our homework. This was my first Mid-Autumn festival and National Day in Taiwan, they were both a lot of fun!