24 September 2007

Mid-autumn barbecue

Tomorrow is the mid-autumn festival but I just don't feel any special. Neither festive food (moon cakes and pomelos) nor customary events really buoy me up, probably for I'm now surrounded by fellow Taiwanese and immersed in an inescapable atmosphere laden with excessive exuberance.

Quite right, familiarity breeds contempt. If I were in Scotland, I wouldn't thinks so, just as how excited most Scottish people might feel about Burns Supper when they are far away from their land.

As mentioned in another entry on this weblog, having a barbecue has become a ritual of the mid-autumn festival in Taiwan since the mid 1980s. Although the folklorist Liu Huanyue (劉還月) argues that it is just a westernised form of celebration, which reflects the thriving economy and uplifted living standard in Taiwan at that time, it has been recently reported on all major news channels that the ever-increasing popularity of the mid-autumn barbecue in Taiwan may has its origin in advertising campaigns.

It might be two soya sauce manufacturers, Wan Ja Shan (萬家香) and Kimlan (金蘭) who once ran their commercials incessantly before the festival, that instigated the mid-autumn barbecue.

Whichever is true, I heard another bullshit explanation last night. It's an adapted story about the Chinese mythical archer Houyi (后羿), who shot down nine suns and saved the earth from excessive heat, and his wife Chang'e (嫦娥), who swallowed a pill of immortality and ascended to the moon.

For more details about the original myth, read the Wikipedia entry. Here comes the parody:
Annoyed by his wife Chang'e's ascent to the moon, Houyi lifed up his bow and targeted at the moon. In a moment of exasperation, he released the arrow but shot down the sun by mistake. The fallen sun scorched the land and charred animals. In memory of this incident, the surviving folk have barbecues on the mid-autumn festival, the day on which the moon is at its fullest and brightest of the year.
A folk tale is in one sense a story which depicts an event at a time when photography and video were not yet introduced and thus has been passed through generations only by word of mouth. No one can verify what had happened to Houyi and Chang'e, nor can anyone challenge this lighthearted version. Therefore, I like this story and will going to tell it to my daughter in the future, and she will surely pass this on to her fellow classmates.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hey 校長
我是偉君啦 我在搜尋 dr lin yung-yao 的 email 時 看到他當你的best man的照片. 就連上你的blog 啦. 恭喜你們有情人終成眷屬. 還有 請一定要幫我跟學姐說, 他實在是我見過最美麗的新娘之一啦!!