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Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival

Celebrated by families across many parts of Asia on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the mid-autumn festival will arrive on 4 October this year. Families with young children will celebrate the festival by taking the children out for long walks, bearing beautiful lanterns to light their way, and all across the island, people will be gathering with friends and family to celebrate the festival by eating sweet and savoury mooncakes and pomelo fruit and drinking tea. In the more traditional gatherings, people recite poetry and play word games. Here are some of the most common ways of celebrating the festival:

Firstly, people will start to buy mooncakes. When every bakery you see starts setting out pastries in the glass display, you’d know that there’s probably a month or so to go before the start of the festival. The mooncake is a traditional pastry that’s made from what flour, and filled with different types of fillings. The most traditional fillings are lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, and a mix of five types of chopped nuts and seeds (usually walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds and watermelon seeds). These days, more exotic flavours are available, and this year, you’d be able to enjoy a wider variety than ever with flavours such as pistachio, sea salt caramel, ginger, mango and even toffee.

During the mid-autumn festival, many people also take the opportunity to meet their families for a reunion dinner. In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the day is a public holiday, and many people take advantage of the break to travel back to their hometown for a reunion dinner.

The festival is strongly associated with the full moon and moon worship, but it is also known as a harvest festival where people celebrate the end of a successful harvest, and take the opportunity to relax and enjoy a feast. If there’s a nice place to admire the moon such as a rooftop seating area, a balcony, or an outdoor area, many people will pack food and tea for an outdoor picnic. Common picnic foods include duck dishes, fruits like watermelon and pomelos, and osmanthus jelly and mooncakes for dessert.

One of the most memorable parts about the mid-autumn festival is the carrying of bright and beautiful lanterns that mimic the natural iridescent glow of the moon. Traditionally, these paper lanterns were lit by candles and made in the shape of the moon or animals like the rabbit, dragon and fish. However, these days, it’s common for children to prefer electronic lanterns or lanterns in the shape of popular cartoon characters like Doraemon, Pikachu, and Hello Kitty. In many streets or parks, lanterns of varying sizes, colours and designs are displayed.

And it’s not just about the lanterns. As part of the celebration, many neighbourhoods will be setting up their own community festivities where children and adults alike are invited to partake in delicious mooncakes, go for moonlit walks, and watch traditional Chinese performances. Some of the more common types of performances include Chinese dance, Chinese opera, cross-talk and puppetry.

Some of the most exciting celebrations in town are held yearly at Chinatown or at the Chinese Garden, where visitors can watch calligraphy demonstrations and lion dances, sign up for lantern crafting workshops and purchase mooncakes from bazaar stalls.

02 Oct 2017