Epoch Times, Singapore Edition (Issue 494, Sept 5 – Sept 18, 2014)
By Epoch Times Staff
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, or Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节), is also known as the Mooncake Festival. Each year, it is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when the full moon is said to be at its brightest and closest to Earth, and therefore at its largest. This year, it falls on
September 8 of the solar calendar. Since antiquity, the Mid-Autumn Festival has always symbolised a time of family reunion and joyous celebration. A round, full and bright moon symbolises completion, and the Chinese character for round, “yuan”, also appears in the Chinese phrase for reunion or gathering, “tuan yuan”. Thus, the Mid Autumn Festival is also a day for families to eat together and enjoy each other’s company.
Origins of the Festival
But in much more ancient times, the Mid-Autumn Festival was first and foremost a harvest festival. “The rites of mid-autumn” had appeared in a Confucian text chronicling the ways of the Zhou dynasty (1046-221 BCE), “The Rites of the Zhou”.
After a bountiful autumn harvest, family members would gather together, and even those who have left their native hometown would return home for the holidays. Together, the whole family would present various fruits and delicacies to their ancestors and spirits of the moon, to thank them for another fruitful year.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), the ceremony became more popular, and the Mid-Autumn festival was designated as an official holiday.
Today, Chinese families continue this tradition of family gathering. The adults sit outside and partake in tea, mooncakes, and pomelos, enjoying the brightness of the moon and each other’s company, while the children play with coloured lanterns.
Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinatown
To get into the festive mood, one of the places to be is Singapore’s Chinatown. In the months of August to September, the streets of Chinatown are customarily festooned with giant lantern displays, and lined with stalls selling paper or cellophane lanterns, moon cakes, fresh fruit, pomelos, and other delicacies.
On the evening of September 6, Saturday is the annual Chinatown Mass Lantern Walk, starting at Kreta Ayer Square from 7pm – 10pm. The walk has always been popular with families, and is open to the public for free. Stroll with friends and family through the colourful displays of Chinatown, with performances by dragon dance troupes, cheerleaders and the percussion band along the way. The walk concludes in the heart of Chinatown, where stage performances and pyrotechnics display will be held.
Born of Legends
Like most Chinese festivals, many rich legends abound with the Mid-Autumn Festival as well. In this special edition, we feature the tales of the Moon Lady Chang E, the condemned wood cutter Wu Gang, and others on page 36 (see The Mid-Autumn Festival: Born of Legends).
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