A Moon to Remember – Mid-Autumn Festival

Chang'e and Jade Rabbit

It has been some time since I last celebrated this festival with the wonderment I had during my childhood days. For those who are unfamiliar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a harvest festival which originated from ancient China. The themes of the festival have gradually evolved from a celebration of abundance to reunion over time.

As with every festival, there is an ancient myth associated with it. In this case, it is the story of the lunar deity – Chang’e, who drank the elixir of immortality and floated to the moon, condemned to live there for eternity with her companion Jade Rabbit.

I first heard this story from my Grandpa. He showed me the shadow of the bunny on the moon which made me remember the story till this day. Another fond memory of this festival was the time spent roaming the village with lanterns made from transparent paper lighted up with candles. The lanterns were mostly made in animal shapes – rooster, rabbit, dog, dragon. Usually, the kids in the village would gather in a group and we would eagerly await the time for our night adventure. When one of our lanterns caught fire during the night stroll, it would the highlight of our night.

Then, there are the quintessential moon cakes. During my time as a kid, there were not as many varieties. The typical ones were made with red bean and lotus seed paste fillings. It was a luxury to have a salted eye yolk in the middle of the moon cake. Then there are also the ones filled with nuts and bits of pork, which was my Grandma’s favourite.

Nowadays, kids are spoiled with choice with snow skin moon cakes, ice cream moon cakes and even jelly moon cakes. In addition to the paper lanterns, they now have the battery operated ones which come in an assortment of superhero and cartoon characters made from plastic and have recorded music. I don’t fancy these modern variations even though they are much safer to operate. They have lost their authenticity and children don’t cherish them like we used to. It’s just another toy to them.

Fundamentally, this festival is not about the legend, lanterns and food. It is about family. This is the time for families to gather and spend time together over some moon cakes and a cup of tea while admiring the full moon as the kids have a little fun of their own. During these modern times when families hardly have time to spend together, this festival should carry more significance to foster closer family ties.

So, here’s wishing all a wonderful Mid-Autumn Festival!

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