The Mid-Autumn Festival (10 September) is just around the corner! You can expect beautiful lanterns across Chinatown, loads of delish mooncakes to get your hands on, and much more. Here’s the lowdown on the cultural festival’s origins and some fun things to do in this year’s instalment.
What’s the festival all about?
Held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival traditionally marks and celebrates the end of the Autumn harvest. There are lots of legends surrounding this cultural festival, with the following tale of famous archer Hou Yi and his beautiful wife Chang’E one of the popular ones.
In ancient times, 10 suns are said to have existed, making the heat unbearable. Hou Yi became a hero after shooting down nine of the ten suns; he was given a magical elixir of immortality for his bravery by a goddess. In order to protect the elixir from being stolen, Chang’E swallowed it, causing her to fly to the moon, where she has remained forever. In her honour, people eat mooncakes and look at the moon in hopes of seeing her.
There’s another popular story behind the origins of mooncakes. During the Yuan Dynasty, the Han Chinese used the sweet treats to hide secret messages as part of their plan to overthrow the Mongols who were ruling at the time. From that time on, the Chinese have baked and eaten mooncakes to commemorate the event during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
What celebrations are there?
The festival was traditionally a thanksgiving celebration, with families gathering to eat mooncakes and admire the full moon. Moon worship also played a part; food was offered to the moon, and lanterns were carried to symbolise its light. However, in modern times, some of these traditions have become less common – the focus is more on the mooncakes. (You probably already know how fancy and creative they can get!) The tradition of gifting mooncakes is still prevalent in Singapore, though some families also still enjoy carrying lanterns during the festival – mainly for the kids!
Things to do
Catch the annual Mid-Autumn Festival street light-up from 26 August to 25 September. Besides a spectacular display of lanterns and lighted sculptures along Chinatown streets, this year will also include a bustling food fair, a trade fair, free weekend trade shows and a Lantern Painting Competition. These family-friendly activities are bound to delight both the young and old. Interested parties can find the full line-up on the official Chinatown Festivals Facebook page.
Gardens by the Bay
Can’t get enough of pretty lanterns? The Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens by the Bay is back with stunning lantern sets being displayed in its outdoor gardens. From 27 August to 11 September, the showcase is open to the public from 6pm to 10pm daily. Outdoor live performances and a bustling marketplace are also making a comeback, along with fringe activities during the weekend. Admission is free for most events unless stated otherwise. Click here for more details!
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
The Memorial Hall invites you and your loved ones to spend Mid-Autumn Festival under the night sky with its annual lantern installation on the lawn, Celestial Bodies. Featuring spherical lanterns of five characters: Moon, Earth, Sun, Saturn and Mercury, the display is available from 16 August to 25 September. They represent the joy of reuniting with loved ones as Covid-19 safety measures are eased. Large-sized and cartoon-like, they are popular among kids and the young at heart.
Besides that, there is also a host of programmes from 3 to 4 September, from workshops to live performances. Updates can be found on the official website closer to the date.
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
Moonfest – A Mid-Autumn Celebration returns for its 18th edition, taking place from 9 to 11 September this year. Esplanade invites families and friends to discover the intrinsic beauty of traditional Chinese arts. Sign up for on-site live performances and ticketed workshops, and have a sneak peek at behind-the-scenes online. The full line-up of Moonfest programmes can be found here.
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