Birth of Confucius

First holiday of October is Confucius' birthday.  Confucianism is a way of life taught by Confucius in the 6th–5th century BC. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy, sometimes as a religion, Confucianism is perhaps best understood as an all-encompassing humanism.  Confucianism has been followed by the Chinese for more than two millennia. It has deeply influenced spiritual and political life in China; its influence has also extended to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

 Confucius statue.

Confucius statue.

Confucius stressed integrity and civility, and founded a tradition of erudition in areas of art, literature, music, history, and more.  Confucianism is a system of social and political morality. Whether it is a religion depends on what religion means to you. Confucianism stressed honoring one's ancestors  and it advocated a form of the Golden Rule.  

In China there are celebrations for Confucius's birthday.  If you would like more detailed information on the ceremony for Confucius's birthday you can find it here.  There are 37 choreographed components of the ceremony, so to sum it up- there is a 60 minute ceremony done at various temples throughout China that involves welcoming the spirit of Confucius into the temple and celebrating him, offering a "sacrifice", and recognizing Confucius as the "first" teacher.  The ceremony ends with the gates closing and spectators leaving the temple to observe a feast which features "wisdom cake" which is said to bring special luck with studies.

The boys and I looked up some Confucius quotes.  We had to wade through some false "Confucius say..." sites but we found some that seemed legit.  Some of our favorites that we found here were: 

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger."

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."

For our craft we wrote each of the boys names in Chinese.  The site where you can see how to write your name can be found here.  The boys got a kick out of seeing how their names looked in Chinese.  They also wanted their favorite stuffed toy to have his name written in Chinese as well.

 

 Copying down his name in Chinese.

Copying down his name in Chinese.

 My oldest's name.

My oldest's name.

 We had to do Kirby's too.

We had to do Kirby's too.

 My Middle child made me write his.

My Middle child made me write his.

 

 I searched all over for a recipe for the rice "wisdom cake" and could not find it.  I decided I would just make a Chinese sponge cake and I found this recipe:

Ingredients we used: 

 The ingredients

The ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 eggs (separated) Yep 8 eggs- I never made a cake with so many eggs before- but trust me its yummy!
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond or coconut)

Method:

  1. Heat water and dissolve sugar. Let cool. This was a wonderful science experiment about how the sugar dissolves in the water.  
  2. Mix yolk into sugar water.
  3. Slowly add flour into the mixture.
  4. Blend in oil and extract.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until peaks are stiff.  This was the other highlight of baking this cake.  The boys couldn't believe that this is what happens if you whip up egg whites.  They wanted to just eat it up right then.  But 8 egg whites did not seem like a good snack idea to me. 
  6. Fold batter from above into egg whites.
  7. Pour combined batter into an UNGREASED aluminum cake pan- we had some issues with the cake sticking to the bottom, so I would maybe throw down a cutout circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan next time.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until done (when toothpick comes out clean).
  9. Turn cake upside down and let cool.  This is where my cake got a little stuck, so wasn't as pretty as I hoped but still quite tasty.
 Posing with all the egg shells

Posing with all the egg shells

 

If you looked at the original recipe you may notice we did not use cream of tartar.  We didn't have any so I just skipped it and it seemed to turn out fine.

 Mixing the sugar and yolk.

Mixing the sugar and yolk.

 Mixing the whites and yolk mixtures.

Mixing the whites and yolk mixtures.

 One of the cakes- fresh from the oven. 

One of the cakes- fresh from the oven. 

I then decided if we were doing this cake we need to do the whole thing so I added the custard filling and whipped cream frosting.  We found the recipe for that here

My sons both decided they were done baking after the cake was done.  So for the best directions I suggest going to the site.  Also I had frosting issues.  We are currently living in Germany and I thought I could tell what whipping cream was- unfortunately for me I was wrong-3 times.  So fourth time was a charm and the cake was finished and got good reviews.

 

 Finished product. Our Chinese sponge cake.

Finished product. Our Chinese sponge cake.

Happy Birthday Confucius!