Friday, August 5, 2011

Feast of the Milky Way: August 7


Lately I have been looking for ways to liven up my weekend.  I realize that for far too long I have been working far too hard and doing little in my leisure time to help myself wind down.  So, this year I have decided to give myself permission to celebrate and enjoy life once again. Of course, Saturday will be a busy time...shopping and cooking again.  

Joan, you had asked me to comment on how I organize it.  It's taken practice, that's for sure, but once you are into a schedule, it's not hard at all.  I also used to cook for catering, and that sure helps.  We don't eat fancy here, only if we throw a party which is rare nowadays.  So, meats usually include the basics.  The first thing I do is the chopping....onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, and anything else I plan to cook with.  The seasonings and sauces are all lined up.  Then, the cooking begins....4 meals on top and 4 in the oven.  I also have some meals that that can be two to a pot...such as my Italian meat sauce and the sausages my hubby loves.  When that is the case, I can have 9 meals cooking at once.   I'll start with the fastest cooking first because by the time the slower ones cook, I am pretty worn down.  Everything is then stored in freezer bags.  

So, that will be my Saturday, but I am determined to make my Sunday fun.  Now, I am not a world traveler.  I won't fly because the plane might crash, and I won't sail because the boat might sink.  Totally irrational fears, I know, but fears nonetheless that keep my feet on solid footing.  But that doesn't mean I cannot partake in festivals and fairs from around the world.  Indeed, it can actually be a lot of fun.  Take the following, for example, which is on my agenda for Sunday.  But first a little info about the old legend.

In China, the annual Feast of the Milky Way takes place each year on this day to celebrate the romantic encounter between Vega the Weaver Maid and Aquila the Herd Boy, the two bright stars on either side of the Milky Way.  It is a day to celebrate astrology and Celestial powers. Some parts of the country celebrate this day on July 7th while other regions choose to keep the old lunar calendar which puts the festivities in August.  The festival marks the time when celestial movement brings the two stars, Vega and Aquila, together in the night sky.  

Both in China and Japan, the tale of the two lovers is told in several different ways. Here is one version of the story. The two bright stars on both sides of the Milky Way are supposed to be a weaver girl and a young cattle herder, who are very much in love with each other.  The two face each other across the Milky Way, a river of stars,  but because it is so wide and vast, they find it almost impossible to meet.  One day, a god in heaven took pity on them and arranged for them to meet via a bridge formed by birds. But, so enamored were they with each other that their work suffered, and as a result, the angry god punished them by separating them from each other...but once a year, however, on this night, they draw near the opposite banks of the river, and all the magpies in the world gather there to form a winged bridge so the lovers can meet. The rest of the year they must attend to their chores.

(Aquila on the left and Vega on the right)

I do love that tale and can actually close my eyes and imagine the star-crossed lovers.  The festival itself was originally was basically for the women, who prayed for enhancement of their skills at sewing and weaving.  In modern times,  this festival is celebrate at night, outdoors, with food and drink, songs and star gazing which is right up my alley.  Japanese families hold parties to celebrate this day, and every household brings out its fineries  and dishes of delicacies (pretty easy to fulfill).  Bamboo branches are decorated with colored paper and bells, and when the stars come out, the tale of the two lovers is told, my favorite part of the night.  Finally, an offering is made to the legendary couple of fruit, flowers, tea, and cosmetic powder; this is placed outside the home. 

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Well, different, to say the least.  I'll let you know how it went on Monday.  May you all have a joy-filled weekend.

6 comments:

  1. well, I guess you will never come visit me then!! I like your idea of enjoying the festival from your own home.. do you do anything special for them? like meals etc?

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  2. Hello dear friend.....You are one organized lady....I knew that from the start. LOL Enjoy your weekend festival.....sound like something fun. We have not been to New York in years...but when we did travel there....we would often venture into Little Italy and China Town....always something fun going on in these little cities within THE CITY.

    Hugs,

    Jo

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  3. Happy cooking and enjoy your weekend!

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  4. Can't let the weekend go by without stopping by to say hello and a Happy Weekend to you m/f.
    Don't party too much ;0) Bet this is a colorful occasion.

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  5. Thanks for the cooking ideas. I am going to give it a try. Sounds like the trick is organization. Love the idea of one major cooking day and meals for two weeks. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Things have cooled off a little here in the Midwest. Hopefully, you will have a cooling down in your neck of the woods!!

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