If you’ve just settled in Taiwan, you’re going to be celebrating your first “Taiwanese Mid-Autumn Festival” in September.
Although most of you probably know the origin story behind this festival and the reason why we eat moon cakes, some might be surprised upon hearing of another tradition of eating pomelos, and seeing children don their peels on their heads may bring about some questions.
So, what does Mid-Autumn Festival have to do with pomelos? According to various sources, the most common explanations lie in the pronunciation of the fruit in Mandarin.
In the Chinese language, the first character for pomelos sounds like the second character in the Chinese characters for “bless.”
Given that pomelos are also in season during the festival, there is little wonder that many have taken to adding the fruit as a “must-eat” this time of year, in the hopes that as family members gather together, they can be “blessed together.”
Besides this, many also say that pomelos also sound like the Chinese character for those living or traveling overseas, far away from home.
As the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for families to get together, relatives will usually take the time to journey home and celebrate; thus, pomelos serve as a lucky symbolism for their safe return home.
Some also believe that pomelos sound like “having children” in Chinese, which means that when you eat them, it will be seen as good luck and a wish for expecting family members to have a child soon.
As for why children wear the pomelo skin (or peels) on their heads? The most common answer lies in the sound of the Chinese characters again.
Pomelos are also pronounced similarly to “bless children” in Chinese, which is why adults place the pomelo skins on children’s heads to protect them from evil and wish for their safety and happiness.
One thing to note of that tradition is though it looks adorable, experts call on the public every year to ask them not to place pomelo skins on pets while adding that if children are to wear them, it shouldn’t be for too long.
The main reason is pomelo skins contain citrus oil and Psoralen. Direct contact with human skin could prove harmful to pets and make them dangerously sick.
If pomelo skins are placed for too long on children’s heads, brown spots may appear after extended contact, resulting in skin inflammation.
So, don’t forget to watch out for the above-mentioned while celebrating the holiday with friends and family this year in Taiwan.
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