In The Heart of China: The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival September 15, 2016

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Hutong Courtyard Home, Study and Private Room to a Woman Official of the Qing Dynasty, Colleague of Empress Dowager Cixi.

Tomorrow morning I leave Binhai for Beijing. It’s a 40-minute fast train ride to the heart of the International City. I’m excited and don’t know what will come of it. What I do know is I’ll be picked up and taken to a hotel on the outer perimeter of the city centre near the 798 art district for an international poets meeting/conference tomorrow evening with Bei Ta (a well-known poet-editor and Director involved with many members of the China Writers Association. I have found that the writing world(s) in various cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou coincide with the Writers Association, which is to make a somewhat educated generalization: a combination of the Canada Arts Council and The Writers Union of Canada. It does provide broader funding for accomplished writers as it must also be overseen by the party. I won’t go into the semantics of ‘censorship’. Most of the writers are free to write as they see fit, as long as they don’t directly insult or challenge the ‘party’. [I’ve come to see that it’s very much a fact] No interpretation or judgement or opinion on that here. TBC discussion) Back to my excursions–that evening I meet with Xi Chuan and get to talk at the conference. He will sign my book, hopefully, and I will give him mine. He’s revered in China much like Munro is in Canada. This is a huge honour for me because of who he is, what he’s known and experienced. Many people have come together to support this rendezvous! Thanks to them and the will to make it happen.

September 15th, 2016 marks another year on the Calendar of a 3000-year-old festival in China ‘Mid-Autumn Moon Festival’  It is a time of reflection, family celebration, and peace. The Moon is observed. Mooncakes are the major ancient sweet delight with fruits such as peaches, pomegranates, red dragon fruit and Tea. Lotus roots are set out to celebrate missing family members. This festival second as important as the Chinese New Year looms in China’s air with a misty gentle yet feeling of an ancient ritual that holds up the harvesting of fruits, the change of season and the magnificence of the moon, thus sets the plate for the arrival of Autumn. It seems to be a combination of Solstice and Thanksgiving. The Temple Fairs, where Folk art comes to life on this day and the time of The Chinese New Year, includes elaborate Dragon dances and demonstrations of China’s traditional arts, music, and crafts. In China, such events have a much more profound effect than what is witnessed of Chinese history and knowledge or imitation in the West.

mooncakes

all sorts of mmmm-Mooncakes, green tea, peach, nuts, cinnamon etc…

Beihai Park, Beijing is the popular place to cruise about the lake, watch the moon, celebrate with people on this special night. There’s an old water area: Shichahai, where wooden boats travel peacefully along the water. A woman plays a ‘quipao’, mooncakes and tea are served. The Summer Palace has Osmanthus Flowers among the trees that many people go to spend time with that day or evening. Rabbits are most exalted as a reminder of the Moon and the legend of Heng’e or more commonly known as Chang’e, the Goddess of the Moon who is left there in waiting for her return, which never comes. Curiosity causes the rift between her and her lover-husband and she is cast away to the Moon with a big Rabbit by her side as per the view of the Moon on this night. This has been a significant precursor to the beginnings of the Mid-Autumn Festival in ancient mythological times.

So, here I start my pre-Moon Festival Day post. I leave for Beijing the day before and awake to the festival on my first morning in China’s capital. I will wander around the city and take pictures. I will decide on the best places to go that suit my ‘moon mood’ for that special day and evening. Where to witness Chang’e and her Rabbit. What Park I can join in for the Festivities or Temple Fair I can attend to watch or where I can sit and write in some ‘Hutong’ or Cafe, whatsoever comes by way of inspiration to poems, journal or blog.

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A Gorgeous contemporary animated rendition of Cheng’e with her rabbit. (Take a closer look) The Chinese mythological Moon Goddess (revered) as depicted from the popular Animation adaptation of the film ‘The Monkey King’. 

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