Mid-Autumn Festival is a pretty big festival within the Chinese community no matter where you are in the world. I’ve been accustomed to celebrating it every year with a deliciously abundant meal, and topping it off with moon cakes. When we were young, we would play with lanterns as well, but nowadays we just have a big dinner and enjoy our conversation over the meal. Of course, Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t a public holiday in Canada like it is here. Okay, no… technically speaking, the day of Mid-Autumn isn’t a holiday. Check it out – the official name for the day off (which is today) is “Day following the Mid-Autumn Festival”. I thought it was weird at first, but it makes sense… everybody stays out late to appreciate the moon on the day of Mid-Autumn Festival, and having a holiday the next day is a lot more convenient.
Last week when I went to BBQ with my coworkers, one of them already told me that Hong Kong people love to hold BBQ parties during Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s time consuming enough so that you can look at the moon every once in a while to not feel bored, and there’s also a great atmosphere when everyone is just huddled around the fire. Yesterday, I finally understood! Funny enough, I ended up at the same BBQ place as last week, but this time it was with a group of church friends. I only knew a handful of people there at the beginning of the night, but the good thing about young people is that we bond easily. Lots of them were newcomers to church that we met through street band, and mostly high school students too. Finally, I found a group of people where I’m not the youngest one! Because that’s how it was pretty much wherever I went in Japan.
BBQ arenas are so convenient. When we want to have this kind of BBQ at home, we have to buy everything ourselves, prepare it, then start a fire, etc. Here, it’s all-you-can-eat style. Just take whatever food you want and make it yourself. All the coal pits are already set up. When you want a fire started, a guy comes over with a can of propane connected to a torch, and literally gets a huge flame going within seconds. (At home, we could be going at it for 10 minutes and still not have a fire….). If you’re a person that can’t live without TV, they also have huge screens with TVB airing, so you can keep up with your dramas. Last week was my first time, so yesterday was my second at what they call a 燒烤場. On weekdays, it’s only $70 HKD per person! I believe it’s $100 on weekends, and yesterday we had to pay $120 because of the special day. The place was packed, too… I can’t help but think how much more money they must have made yesterday!
As for traditional Mid-Autumn festivities, we didn’t do much of that. I didn’t even eat any moon cakes (which is a good thing – less calories!). We saw many lanterns pass by in the air though, and every now and then, we would look up and stare at the round moon up in the sky. What we did do, however, is make up our own events. A girl brought her guitar, a boy brought drumsticks (no drum set, of course – he just played on tables and chairs), and another guy brought a harmonica, and we ended up just jamming away to songs. We actually got quite a bit of attention from people around us too! I guess that’s what we aim to do at street band – just have fun and bring out the joy in our hearts. Allow it to touch the people around us, and let them see the presence of God in us.
And the Mid-Autumn festivities continue! I have more family dinners coming up tonight, and one that already happened on Wednesday…. the atmosphere is amazing!