Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2012

The Mid-Autumn Festival, better known as the Mooncake Festival, is traditionally a harvest festival in China. With the Chinese diaspora, the celebration of this festival can be found wherever there is a Chinese community. Whilst the celebration is originally meant to mark the end of the harvest season, there are several traditional practices carried out in association with this festival.
Happy Mooncake Festival
Here's my Angry Birds' Bad Piggy lantern wishing all a Happy Mooncake Festival whilst eyeing the Kam Lun Tai mooncakes. Bad Piggy wants mooncakes instead of Angry Bird eggs...

One of them is the worship of Chang-Er, the moon goddess in hopes of being blessed with a flawless complexion like the moon whilst others pray to her for a good husband. The offerings consist of mooncakes, water caltrop (Trapa natans syn. bicornis), mini yams and pomelos (pummelos - Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis); round fruits symbolises the fullness of the moon and of family harmony.
Trapa bicornis, water caltrop, taro, mini yam
The mini yams (we call it Pinang Or - betelnut yam) and water caltrop (菱角, ling kok a.k.a. Jesuit Nut/Devil's Pod) that is usually only eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Some go to the extent of peeling pomelos and ‘mini’ yams on this full-moon night in hopes of achieving this ‘flawless’ complexion of the moon. Of course with modern science and space exploration, no women in her sound mind would want a complexion like the moon; for the surface of the moon is dry, cracked, and full of craters and blotchy markings.
water caltrop, yam, taro, mooncake
Cooked and cracked water caltrop, boiled 'mini' yams and mooncake for Mid-Autumn Festival.

The mooncake festival is also a time for family reunion. After all, you get your whole family involved in the harvest in the olden days. So what better reward after the hard work than a family gathering where one can eat, drink and be merry together.
mooncakes and box
Baker's Cottage mooncakes - had this for an office gathering. Clockwise from top left: Green tea red bean paste, Low sugar lotus paste with one yolk, Precious Black (charcoal powder) and Shanghai mooncake (flaky pastry skin).

The bearing of lanterns during this festival comes from the 14th century revolt by the Chinese against the Mongols whereby the Chinese overthrew the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty in an uprising brilliantly hatched by lantern-bearing messengers who delivered mooncakes with hidden messages.
mooncake box
The usually elaborate and decorative box that you get when you buy mooncakes. Click here for last year's mooncake box from this company.

Nowadays, kids go around bearing lanterns that is made from paper or plastic, lit by candles or by LED lights, traditional or characters of popular cartoons and games e.g. Ben 10, Tweety Bird, Angry Birds, Batman etc.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival
So Happy Mooncake Festival 2012 to all. Eat and be merry.

A Blue Flower - Ithuriel's Spear

The Triteleia laxa ‘King Fabiola’ surprised me today when I turned one of the pots around to see how they are doing. These corms that I have procured from Diana (Kebun Bahagia Bersama) and planted in pots had been placed between the other planter boxes as the leaves are droopy and not at all attractive. In past month, some of the plants have already begun to lose their leaves, indicating that they are coming to the end of the season. They are known to flower either leafless or when they start to lose their leaves.
Triteleia laxa, Ithuriel's spear, King Fabiola
The triplet lily Triteleia laxa King Fabiola - the poor thing is stunted, more like a Dwarf Fabiola. The blue colour is very pretty and I wouldn't mind a garden covered with little blue flowers like this.

Thinking that the flower stalks would be long and hence would be noticeable when they do bloom, I have paid little attention to them (click here for a post when the leaves first emerged). Also, I paid little attention to them in terms of feeding, since in the wild, they are supposed to be weeds. The name grassnut tells you a lot about the plant's behaviour in the wild.

Alas, I spotted a pretty blue flower, not on an umbel at the end of a long inflorescence, but just a few centimetres above the soil level. The lilac-blue colour is indeed very pretty. A check on the other pot that had became leafless indicate that flowers could have possibly came and gone unnoticed, as I have the pot sandwiched between a pot of lavender and the kai lan.
Triteleia laxa, triplet lily, grassnut flower
The somewhat distorted/stunted inflorescence of my King Fabiola - probably due to neglect and weather conditions. They supposed to be long and bear an umbel of blue flowers.

The flower of the triplet lily, also known as Ithuriel's spear, has parts that come in threes - three sepal and three petals. Besides the pretty blue flowers, the corms are edible and supposedly taste like potatoes, though I am not willing to kill a corm and try. Perhaps I should have gotten more King Fabiola corms in the first place. Err, Diana, any more King Fabiola corms???