The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Mooncake Festival, is more than just another reason to eat mooncakes.
I mean well, pigging out on mooncakes are a huge reason why we celebrate this special occasion. But at the heart of it all, the Mooncake Festival represents our childhoods.
Looking back at it now as we sit clothed in our adult attires, furiously typing away on the keyboards in our adult jobs while waiting for the dawn of weekends, the Mooncake Festival is a time when we would roam the corridors with our neighbours and friends, lighting up the best moment of our lives. As we traverse the memory lane together, these are some recollections that will last forever…
1. Toting our Lanterns on the Streets
Getting to choose the newest, cutest and most fanciful lantern every time the Mooncake Festival comes around, makes celebrating it way more fun. For the more old school ones amongst us, we absolutely relish the paper lanterns that add a touch of class and tradition. Watching our lanterns light up and play their familiar music makes our younger selves squeal in delight. Most music lanterns have the same annoying jingle, but does it really matter? What truly matters is running around the void deck with our friends, and not having a care in the world. Because, kids.
2. Visiting Chinatown for the Lights and Decor
The vibrant streets of Chinatown light up to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival every year. Singaporeans fill the alleys, gathering as one to soak in the festivities and feast our eyes on the bright, dazzling decorations. As an ’80s and ’90s Singaporean kid, our parents would always bring us along to enjoy the lights and decor of the enchanting precinct.
Since her earliest days as a bustling trade port with a rich diversity of hawker delights, Chinatown has continued to be a unique and celebrated landmark in Singapore, where we can look forward to exploring the multi-ethnic festivals in the district.
3. Eating old school, classic mooncakes
Before the variations of mooncakes started popping out of the oven, the very first mooncakes that we ate were simple, delish and impossible to forget (how they taste). These artisanal mooncakes are slowly dying out, since most mooncakes sold today are factory manufactured in many iterations.
The old school flavoured mooncakes are handmade and filled with the goodness of lotus seed paste, and browned pastry mooncake skin. For a tinge of savouriness, we sinfully indulge in the ones with lotus paste and double salted egg yolk. We were kids, and we didn’t really care about putting on weight.
Sadly, not anymore…
4. Gazing at the full moon
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which so happens to be a full moon day. It is a popular observance in Singapore where people find the best locations to sit, dine and ‘worship’ the moon, which is at its brightest during this time of the year. The mooncakes are shaped like the full moon as well to signify reunion and a bountiful harvest.
5. Listening to Chinese folktales
If you haven’t heard the age-old story, then now is the time. The legend goes that Chang’e, the Chinese Goddess of the Moon, was forced to swallow the elixir of mortality when her husband, legendary figure Hou Yi, was out hunting. Yi had shot down nine suns that scorched the earth, and was rewarded the elixir for his hard work. He had given the elixir to Chang’e, because he didn’t want to gain immortality without her.
So back to the story when he was out hunting one day, his adversary broke into their house wanting to steal the elixir for himself. In a desperate attempt to save the elixir from the wrong hands, Chang’e drank it and flew upward towards the heavens. Stricken with grief, Yi began to worship the moon with offerings that his wife loved.
Folktales like these continue to be well-loved stories across generations. But the most memorable one of all has got to be the story of Chang’e. One that we have heard repeatedly as children. Till today, statues of her continue to be widely displayed during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
What are some other fond memories that you have of the Mooncake Festival? Do you find yourselves enjoying the festival more as an adult or a child? Share with us in the comments section down below!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!