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Monday, September 19, 2005

Mooncake Festival

I hosted my very first Mooncake Festival party last Saturday night – Mooncake Festival was on Sept. 18th this year. We had a potluck dinner where I made hotpot satay soup with beef and shrimp balls, pork and vegetable dumplings, straw mushrooms, baby corn and bok choy. The rest of the dishes were pork curry with potatoes and carrots, crispy noodles with seafood (lauriat style), and stir-fried beef with broccoli and snap peas. Of course, for dessert we had traditional mooncake each filled with lotus seeds and 2 egg yolks.

We had about 20 people over – including my in-laws as well as my SIL’s in-laws. Next to the dinner, the highlight of the evening was the long anticipated Dice Game. The game involves rolling 6 dice in a deep bowl and winning prizes based on the dice combinations. I was slightly rusty on the rules and scoring – but my mom was kind enough to email me the instructions for the game.

Now, I don’t know if the Dice Game is actually a tradition in all parts of China. I spoke to my Vietnamese-Chinese and a Taiwanese friend and both of them were not familiar with the game. But back home, every Filipino-Chinese household I knew played the game, which we called Pua Tiong Chiu. So maybe it’s a Filipino-Chinese tradition or maybe it was only played in the Fuchien provinces of China (where most Chinese in the Philippines emigrated from).

Either way, these annual Dice Games were certainly a large part of my growing up years. We had two sets of games – one where we played with my Father’s side of the family (this was where you could earn serious money – since my angkong was extremely generous and the cash prizes along with ho-pia (mooncakes) were very much in demand). Then there were the games with my mother’s side of the family – where instead of money we had gift prizes like chocolates, canned goods, chips, etc – where surprisingly, the friendly competition would be just as fierce!

These games were really great times for both sides of the family. It was when everyone from the eldest member (from my angkong to my guakong) all the way down to my youngest cousin would eagerly wait their turn to roll the dice and hopefully win the grand prize. There would be a lot of good-natured teasing (especially from my uncles!), mock competition between families, friendly banter between cousins, and a host of different techniques on the luckiest way to roll the dice to come up with the elusive winning combinations. I remember most fondly my dad’s affable antics, like dancing on the sidelines, or blowing on the dice before rolling them, or getting a good luck kiss from my mom - he would have everyone laughing or good-naturedly rolling their eyes. At the end of the game, there was never an empty-handed player – everyone always won something and traditionally grand prize winners were gracious and always gave out balato (or token prizes) to the ones who didn’t do so well. It was always a happy occasion.

It is this sentiment that made me want to start the tradition with my new family. Although my hubby’s family never played the game before, everyone was incredibly receptive to the idea and gamely chipped in money to buy our prizes. And believe me everyone got into the game! Last Saturday night, the competition was just as spirited and as aggressive as the ones I’ve been a part of back home. There was the usual teasing and bantering, and then naturally my BILs came up with their own techniques for winning - some of which worked while others were at least good for a laugh. It was a lot of fun - even if my hubby and I didn’t win any of the major prizes.

On Sunday, in keeping with the "Chinese theme" of the weekend, my BILs came over and helped my hubby move our bedroom furniture around. This was our big feng shui makeover. So now, with all the mooncake we had and our new feng-shui-approved room – it’s time to bring on the good fortune!


jol said...

Mooncake and feng shui will bring you luck and good fortune. Some deeds of helping the less fortunate people will ensure that good fortune will come your way.

The dice game served its purpose of getting relatives and friends together in a happy and enjoyable atmosphere.

jml said...

Indeed many happy family memories are brought to mind when mooncake festival time comes around. I am so glad that you have retained the best of your childhood and wish to continue the traditions that we observed. Doing so gives us parents one of the biggest compliments that a child can ever give.

Sareet said...

One year, my mom ate so many mooncakes over the few weeks leading up to the festival and after it, that her cholesterol shot way up high - mainly because she loves the egg yolks and would only eat 4 yolk mooncakes!

Joanne said...

Mom, Dad, mooncake festival is just one of the things I miss about home. Am so excited that you guys are coming soon!

Sareet, yeah, the 4-yolk mooncakes are a bit too rich for me :) By the way, have you heard of the Dice Game?

Sareet said...

Honey, I come from a long line of gamblers. I've been losing my lucky money at dice games for years!

washington said...

Enjoyed your story.... Yes, those were fond memories we had. Keep it up. How is the newlook of your bedroom???? Any Good fortunes lately!!!!

Joanne said...

Hi Unc, When I said there was a lot of "good natured teasing - especially from uncles" - I meant you. :) You and my dad were always the life of the party! No news yet about any "good fortune". Stay posted!

Jane said...

Wow, that dice game sounds fascinating! Would you mind telling us the rules to the game? I'm really interested because this year, Mooncake festival is on Sept. 25 and I would love to host a party of my own. :)

bluebellfire at gmail . com

Anonymous said...

rules of the game?

i'm very much interested about the email you got from your mom regarding the mechanics of the game. hehe.

if you have time, please email me here:
i hope to include this in my class presentation on thursday (july17'08).


Anonymous said...

Nice post and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you seeking your information.

chico said...

hi! can you email me the instructions for the game? thank you! :)