They always say that one of the pleasures of travel is that it broadens the mind. Nowhere have I found this more so than since I arrived in China earlier this year. To see how people in different lands live their daily lives in complete contrast to what one has grown up with can be both fascinating and frustrating at one and the same time.
Take the Mid Autumn Festival, for instance. Last week I was presented by the company with a box of moon cakes. I can’t say I was particularly overwhelmed by their taste, but not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I gratefully accepted them and added to my pile of life’s experiences. Only later, when I started asking my new friends what they thought of the moon cakes did I find that others found them equally as ‘underwhelming’ as myself.
So why are they so popular? Immediately I can think of parallels in Europe where people are given wedding cake after weddings, or cold turkey and Brussels sprouts at Christmas. No one seems particularly overjoyed at having to eat this stuff, but tradition says we have to. Just what is it that makes an entire country’s population behave in an irrational way purely for the sake of tradition? It seems that maybe we are not so very different across the world after all.