This Friday is the start of the Jewish New Year, and I've been invited to attend the Rosh Hashanah celebration at a friend's home. I will bring honey, as it is customary to dip apples or bread in honey to encourage sweet things in one's life. It is also touching to think that the friend and his family wish to have us over to his house as it means that they hope to continue the friendship through the next year.
New Year holidays, whether the Jan 1, or subsequent cultural/religious ones, are a rebirth. However, the Jan. 1 event seems to have turned into a debauched mix of drunken loutery and list making. For the last few years, I've been more attuned to the Chinese new year celebration; this year was quite memorable as I joined a walking tour of Binondo, dodging the antics of lion dance troupes and firecrackers.
This Saturday will be my third new year celebration in 2006, and the only one with a religious bent to it. A bit nervous of making a booboo during the festivity, but luckily the friend is not too orthodox, and I'm not bringing anything that requires a rabbi's seal of approval.
By the end of the month and in early October, the Chinese community will celebrate the autumn mooncake festival. I saw a display of hopia and mooncakes at Rockwell over the weekend, panicked a bit thinking it was last weekend, but was told the date was in October. Unlike most afficionados, I dislike the salted egg inside the mooncakes. I prefer my share to be egg free, or the ones with nuts for texture. Sometimes I find the one with a mix of bean and sunflower seeds, which isn't too sweet on the tongue plus has a crunch. Mooncake is usually so dense and sweet that a quarter slice is all I can take, even with the strongest oolong to go with it. Yunnan coffee might be a better pairing, but haven't found any of the kind in Manila.
The traditional Southern Chinese game to play during the festival is the dice game, where rolling the right combination of dice may win you the daddy of all beancakes (it looks like a deep dish pizza). In some places, when adults (with moolah) play, the ultimate prize is a trip, sometimes cash. I'll be inviting some friends to play a few rounds, but no fancy prizes, just the humble bean biscuits we love.