Mid-Autumn Festival is a special time for families and relatives in China to gather and worship the moon, as its round shape symbolises connectedness.
But in China’s rural villages where many parents are working in in far-away cities, celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as Moon Festival) can be bittersweet.
Which is why OneSky trained caregivers do their very best to foster a sense of togetherness for the children.
Trained to provide nurturing care, this year, our village caregivers helped the children make moon cakes from paper, combing red, yellow, blue, orange, and purple colors. Once the children had chosen their favorite color, they immersed themselves in the fun of paper art, under the gentle guidance of their caregivers.
Young Chenchen was exceedingly enthusiastic about his work of art, telling his instructor: “I want to make two moon cakes, one for my younger brother and one for me! I’ll bring him a purple moon cake when I go home to see him.”
The caregivers complimented Chenchen’s generosity and kindness and encouraged more children to join in making moon cakes for their family members too — mostly their grandparents.
Another child phoned her parents who lived in a faraway city, expressing how much she missed them while sharing her happiness in making paper mooncakes.
“Now it’s time to make a real moon cake!” announced the caregiver.
Before long, several children volunteered to knead the dough while the others made the mooncake fillings, mixing fried sesame with salt and other ingredients.
As the steaming time was up, a big round mooncake appeared in front of all the children. “Wow, is this a moon cake?” they asked all at once with a surprise.
“Yes. When I was a child, on Mid-Autumn Festival, my mother made us a moon cake like this,” the caregiver told the children. “We also took them to visit our relatives but now that living conditions are better, your parents or grandparents will buy you moon cakes of various flavors. But this cake is a very traditional one.”
Everyone, hurry up and have a taste!” she said.
After sharing her sweet childhood memory of eating a traditional cake, the caregiver cut it into pieces, calling on the children to sit closer together, to enjoy the gathering and the delicious sweets.
In orphanages …
As the Mid-Autumn Festival arrived, the nannies from OneSky’s Infant Nurture Program explained to the children the origin and the customs of the holiday which falls every year on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, bringing families together in celebration.
They also taught the children to make moon cakes by themselves but unlike in the villages, the younger children made theirs with colored clay, while the caregivers shared real sweets they had brought from home for the children.
Little Yueyue held the sweet moon cake in her hand and took a look. Then she put it in her nanny’s mouth saying, “Mom, you eat first.” Other children followed Yueyue, giving their nannies moon cakes to eat before taking any themselves. The nannies were all moved by the children’s kindness.
In the Loving Families Program, the children asked their foster parents many questions about the festival, such as what it meant and why moon cakes and chestnuts are eaten at this time.
In one foster family, the mother had prepared delicious snacks for the children who sat waiting with their hands washed, ready to hear her response to their inquisitive questions.
“The reason we eat moon cakes on Mid-Autumn Festival is that moon cakes, obviously round in a circle, represents the reunion and harmony of a loving family, just like us now, also sitting together happily eating moon cakes,” she said, adding that it was also at this time of year that the local crops became ripe.
Nodding their heads in understanding, the children began eating the snacks from the golden harvest season, relishing in the festive atmosphere permeating their hearts and home.
In China’s orphanages and rural villages, OneSky brings the joy of important holidays and special occasions into the lives of children who are otherwise unable to fully celebrate them. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of many such annual festivities.