Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋)

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, a day on which the family traditionally gets together for dinner, fruits, and mooncakes. I remember we also had 楊桃, 沙田柚, 芋頭, 菱角, ... And my father would make 楊桃, 兔子 燈籠 (lanterns) for us. I always like 蓮蓉月餅, but I also grew up to be quite fond of 金華火腿月餅, which my father also liked. On such a date, it is important for the family to be together, signified by the complete, rounded moon.

蘇軾 gave us a good excuse to drink:

明月幾時有, 把酒問青天 …


Like many of us, he lamented:


If we seek perfect, long-lasting happiness in this life, we are doomed to be disappointed. The moon does not stay full, and people do not stay together forever. Two years ago on this day, my family was in Hong Kong and I was alone in Suzhou (蘇州), watching a perfect full moon rising in a famous garden (網獅園). But the separation was only for a few days. This year, my eldest daughter is studying in the USA and the separation is much longer. In this incidence I don’t feel particularly sad because it is for a good reason, even though it is not perfect nonetheless.

In the long run, however, there is bounded to be real sadness, sickness, death, and more painful separation. The best we can hope for is perhaps:


That is, to live long and a eventual re-union, or fellowship over long distances. Even that, can only offer temporary respite. Our real hope is in the longer term future, literally out of this world, in the afterlife.

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