WHEN even the stock market tracks the ghost month (August in the Gregorian calendar, equivalent to the seventh month in the lunar) to sort of explain the ups and downs of the market, you know some so-called old wives’ tales are not all lunacy or kidstuff. Okay, so it was good riddance to the ghost month on Aug. 30, and as if to compensate for the 28 days lost avoiding contract signings, weddings, and big noisy parties, the Festival of the Harvest Moon, better known as the Mooncake Festival, crept up on us last Wednesday with the promise of a full moon the following day.
As a gentle rain fell (and hid the moon), families and friends got together to roll out their dice games to play for hopia or money – one group I know chipped in for a pot of R105,000 in cold cash – and you could hear happy shrieks and screams gaily competing with the sound of six dice click-clicking as soon as they hit the deep bottom of a big fat glass bowl. (Back in the old days at the National Press Club, a hard core of regulars played the same game with the same rules and dice, but they called it “balut” – why that name I never found out.)
The mooncake dice games are no big deal in Chinatown, where the annual fete has been going on for generations, but the news is that Hong Kong’s ever competitive, ever creative chefs have now “invented” a “new” mooncake. “Snow skin,” it’s called, naturally more expensive than the usual prototypes of golden brown skin encasing familiar flavors like lotus, mung bean, pumpkin seed. As long as there’s a moon – the golden egg – in the cake, it’s a mooncake. How the Chinese love their food with their rituals, combining the two to create traditions that last centuries! Can a 5,000-year-old civilization keep going without its lore of feast, myth, magic, and mysticism?
Under the moon and stars, enjoying mooncake and tea, fellow travelers are reminded by astrologer Zenaida Seva that Jupiter, harbinger of luck, is in Libra. Translation: Luck is in the air for air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) and secondarily for fire signs (Leo, Sagittarius, Aries) until Oct. 21, 2017. Better believe it. (Jullie Y. Daza)