Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mid-Autumn Festival and Sukkot

I realized at some point recently that the Chinese holiday of Mid-Autumn Festival and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Sue-COAT) will be at the same time almost every year since the Chinese calendar and the Jewish calendar are both lunar calendars!  This is so awesome!  We are so excited to be able to celebrate both holidays simultaneously with all of our kids in the coming years.  Because the Chinese lunar year starts sometime usually in January/February and the Jewish lunar year starts sometime in September/October, the holiday will line up exactly on two out of every three years.  On the third year it is not exact but very close.   Fall is always a very busy time of year for us with many Jewish holidays and all of our birthdays, and the usual Halloween, Thanksgiving and back to school events.  It is great that we will get to celebrate two holidays simultaneously and that one of them is Chinese!  

Mid-Autumn Festival is also called Moon Festival, because it takes place on the full moon.  The festival celebrates three things: gathering of friends and family, thanksgiving (for the season's harvest) and prayer.  I look forward to learning more about it in the future as we celebrate every year.  

For folks who don't know about Sukkot, it is a festival that commemorates the time the Jewish people spent wandering in the desert living on faith and in tents but it's also a time for thanking G-d for the harvest of the past season.  This year when we built out sukkah (SUH-kah), it had a Chinese theme with red lanterns.  I'm sure we'll build on this theme every year.  We build a temporary structure in the backyard to remember the tents of biblical times and hang out in it as much as possible for the duration of the holiday.  It's a really fun holiday in addition to the spiritual part and the kids think that it's great fun to build a gigantic "fort" in the backyard! 

One important prayer that is said at Sukkot (and many, many other times!) is the Shehecheyanu which translates roughly into English as "Thank you G-d for creating me, sustaining me and enabling me to reach this moment".  This prayer and this festival are all about rejoicing and being grateful for what we have and for being alive. Note that this *not* a prayer to ask for anything.  It's just about gratitude and that's something I think all of us should take time to celebrate!  There is more to Sukkot than that, but you get the gist. 

The after dinner jam session in the sukkah, drums and guitar.

This year all I could find were Korean moon cakes, but it was a kind of last minute effort as we have been so year when our Chinese children are home, it will be a priority to find Chinese moon cakes!  The moon cakes I bought were delicious by the way, with a sweet sesame paste inside and an outside that was like a steamed rice dough *and* they were freshly made locally.  I understand that a lot of the Chinese moon cakes are packaged and shipped so not very fresh.  The Korean ones were much more plain than the Chinese ones I have seen which usually have an ornate pattern or design pressed into the top and are actually quite beautiful.  

In other news, the LOA still isn't here.  The Adoption Authority in China has been close for Mid-Autumn Festival so hopefully they will be working overtime this coming week and we will get our LOA SOON!  I did recently hear of several families whose dossiers were "misplaced".  Apparently they were all put in a pile and forgotten about for a month or two.  Our was *not* in that pile (thank G-d!) but do you think it might be in another pile somewhere else, misplaced or forgotten?!  We have been so patient up until now, trying to trust the process, but I am going to ask our agency to check, email, call or do whatever they can do first thing on Monday morning!  So far, they have been super helpful and very efficient as far as what needs to be done on their end, but this wait is verging on ridiculous!