Mid Autumn Festival, or Mooncake Festival, symbolises family togetherness. Share the stories behind this festival with your kids and celebrate family time together.
It is more than just about savouring the latest mooncake flavours or creating your own lanterns. The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节), also known as the “Mooncake Festival,” also holds a number of insights and lessons for the family – because of all the stories behind its origins.
You might have noticed rabbits as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival’s celebratory visuals. What connection do these fluffy animals have with the festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month every year and, this year, it is on 27 Sep. This year, along with enjoying the plethora of palate-seducing treats, celebratory events, and activities lined up for the family, also embrace the story behind the festival and perhaps you and your kids will soak in the festivities in a new light.
The story of Hou Yi and Chang Er
Legend tells of the love story between a brave warrior, Hou Yi, and a kind and gentle, Chang Er, who—in attempt to prevent the elixir of eternal life from being snatched by Hou Yi’s disciple—downed the concoction and ascended to the heavens as an immortal. It was the great love that the two shared which drew her to the Moon, the nearest place to the Earth in the heavens.
Upon discovering what happened to his wife, Hou Yi was overwhelmed with emotions and shouted fruitlessly for Chang Er. He started offering Chang Er’s favourite food as a sacrifice and built an altar to pray to her. Since then, the folk people would offer sacrifices to Chang Er to pray for peace and good luck… and the custom of praying to the Moon started.
This informative video comes in useful when explaining the story of Hou Yi and Chang Er to your children.
Who is Jade Rabbit?
The story goes like this: Three immortals were reincarnated into three old and poor folks and begun begging food from a fox, a monkey, and a rabbit. The fox and monkey managed to find food and offered them to the immortals, but the rabbit was unsuccessful.
Unexpectedly, the rabbit offered himself to the immortals and said “You can eat me” and jumped into the fire. This gesture touched the hearts of the immortals and they sent the rabbit to the moon to become an immortal Jade Rabbit. Since then, the selfless Jade Rabbit has been residing in the Moon Palace, accompanying Chang Er. He is believed to pound immortal medicine for those living in the heavens.
That explains why a cute rabbit motif is sometimes present on those pretty mooncake boxes too!
Who celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival, which occurs annually around the time of the main harvest of the region. This is marked by the 15th day of the 8th lunar calendar month.
Predominantly, the ethnic Chinese celebrate this festival. It is also a holiday celebrated in Vietnam, Taiwan, mainland China, and Hong Kong.
What does the Mid-Autumn Festival symbolise?
Since the Tang Dynasty, the Mid-Autumn Festival has been regarded as an event of family togetherness. The Full Moon also adorns the sky like a bright white symbol of union, giving families and loved ones a wonderful opportunity to sit down together to bask under the moonlight.
According to traditions and customs, the Chinese saying “月圆人团圆” is directly translated as “Round (full) Moon, People Reunite (or come together).” In Chinese tradition and literature, a round full moon symbolizes completeness and is associated with family reunion.
Besides enjoying mooncakes and tea, how can we join in the Mid-Autumn Festival Singapore celebrations with our family?
Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore
When the Sun sets, it’s time to appreciate the soft moonlight.
In Singapore, we typically indulge in mooncakes (food, of course, what else!) paired with freshly brewed Chinese tea. Every year, restaurants, hotels, and bakeries tickle our taste buds with fancy creations—from traditional baked mooncakes to snow skin ones, there is an interesting mix of fillings to please everyone.
This year, here are some places to take your family to and to discover more about the traditional Chinese customs and traditions. Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap some memory shots too!
1. Chinese Garden
The usually peaceful place livens up whenever the Mid-Autumn Festival comes along. The Chinese Garden gets transformed into a bustling meeting place for families of all walks of life, to visit the larger-than-life figurines, admire the beautiful brightly-lit lanterns, and play some traditional games.
Kids will enjoy exploring the open spaces and be mesmerised by the exhibits. Bring along your lanterns (battery-powered or candlelit) to join other children in this merry mood.
Mark your calendars: Dates had yet to be released at time of publication. Check this site for more info. This is an open-to-public event. Free.
Thousands of beautiful lanterns will adorn the vibrant streets of Chinatown, so be prepared to treat your senses to an avalanche of cultural art performances, festive street bazaar, stage shows, food stalls, competitions, night market, pyrotechnic displays, and more!
Mark your calendars: 12 Sept to 16 Oct. This is an open-to-public event. Free.
3. Mooncake Fair at Ngee Ann City, Takashimaya Square B2
This annual gastronomy event has somewhat become a permanent go-to place for mooncakes galore. There will be both local and overseas brands and creative mooncake flavours, so expect crowds and plenty of sampling before placing your dollars on your tongue-approved mooncakes.
Mark your calendars: 27 Aug to 27 Sep, 10am to 9pm daily.
4. Flying with mooncakes
Singapore Airlines are giving their passengers a mooncake treat.
They have recently launched their very own mooncakes flavours including four assorted SIA Selections (Sweet Potato and Water Chestnut, Cranberry and White Lotus, Melon Seed and Jasmine Tea, and Plum with Figs and White Lotus) and the Heritage Favourite flavour, White Lotus Double Yolk. Available at $68 (w/GST).
These local bakes will be served onboard selected flights departing from Singapore this Mid-Autumn Festival on 27 September 2015, and are also available for order via KrisShop, with the option of home delivery or self-collection at Orchard Central.
5. Moonfest at Esplanade
Moonfest invites parents to bring their kids along to enjoy time away from technology to discover our traditional roots and rich heritage during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This year, don’t miss the Cantonese Opera productions at the Theatre, a folk song concert, a puppetry production for the young, Chinese music ensemble performances, witty lantern riddles, Chinese chess, and the ever-popular Lantern Walkabout!
Mark your calendars: 25 to 27 Sep. Paid tickets are required for selected programmes.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a meaningful event which reminds us of the importance of family time and togetherness. We hope while you enjoy those delectable mooncakes and activities with lanterns, do remember to enjoy the family bonds among your loved ones, for these are intangible lessons only the heart can feel.
How will you and your family be celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival? What are some of your favourite mooncakes flavours? Share them with us in the comments below!