The Mid-Autumn Festival—also called Moon or Mooncake Festival—is the third of Taiwan’s big three, annual, family-centric celebrations. It takes place on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, when the full moon marks the beginning of autumn harvest.
This year, it fell on Friday 29 September—a national holiday, and the start of a three-day weekend.
Although Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated across Asia, a uniquely Taiwanese element is the tradition of barbequing on the street. Or indoors.
But first, mooncakes!
My long weekend started with a gift from a friend who owns one of my favorite local cafes: Caffé Bird (咖啡鳥) in Lingya District.
Caffé Bird (also spelled Coffee Bird in English) specializes in healthy cooked meals. But, more importantly, it sells the most delicious bread in Kaohsiung.
My friend gave me nine mooncakes in a beautiful colored box. I don’t eat egg—which comes standard in mooncakes—so she made these with mochi, red bean, and taro instead:
Friday night: BBQ
Another friend said he’d bring dinner to my house. We often eat street food, but this time he arrived with a barbeque grill in his bag.
Barbequing for Mid-Winter Festival is a Taiwan-specific tradition. On Thursday night, while walking in the cooler (29ºC) evening heat, I’d seen five or six groups barbequing on the sidewalk outside businesses and apartment buildings.
In New Zealand, if I was walking at 9pm and saw a group barbequing on the sidewalk, I’d look for a detour. But on Thursday, the atmosphere was—as is typical in Taiwan—warm, safe, and inclusive.
Seeing my friend’s barbeque in-hand, I asked if we should set it up on the balcony. He looked at me like I’d asked the world’s strangest question, because of course not: we’d be barbequing on the dining table.
And we did, and it was excellent:
Unable to read Chinese characters, I usually don’t know what’s happening in Kaohsiung. Instagram helps, but recently a friend told me about khh.tainanoutlook.com—an extremely-useful events website. Although it’s in Chinese, the in-browser translation works okay.
On this site, and also via Instagram, I learned about the mid-autumn Water–Travel–Art Festival in Meinong District. It’s a rural Hakka district that’s still technically in Kaohsiung, but 90 minutes away by scooter.
Last night, another friend and I went to check it out: