Tomorrow, 14 September 2008 the Chinese community will be celebrating the mooncake festival. It is the 15 day of the 8th lunar month according to the Chinese calendar. Family will be enjoying mooncakes, and children will be playing with laterns or tang lung.
The picture above shows the more ‘old fashioned’ laterns or tanglungs that I’ve grown up playing with. These laterns, made with hamper papers into different animal shapes and themes, and the colour and patterns are hand drawn, sprinkled with gold and shining glitters of different colours. Then, a small candle will be lid – there is a special steel wire made to hold the candle. Those days, all of our parents will buy laterns with the shape of the animal depleting the year of our birth. While my friends’ parents will get them new laterns every year, my parents will buy the latern for us to play with. Then, my mom will carefully wrap the laterns in newspaper and store it carefully- on the mooncake festival the following year, the laterns will be unwrapped and taken out for us.
Then, when it comes to night time, we will be lighting candles on the gate- illuminating the night with colourful candles. My neighbours also did the same. Some of the kids in the neighbourhood will take their laterns and walked around the street- the mood is very festive.
But over the years, more sophisticated laterns had been invented- depleting popular cartoon characters such as Spiderman, teenage mutant ninja turtles, and later powerpuff girls. These laterns are battery operated and no longer lighted with candles. In a way, it is also good as there were cases of the old fashioned laterns catching fire- causing damages when unattended.
But somehow, the magic that I felt during the Mooncake festival when I was young seemed to be gone- or perhaps because I had outgrown the stage- or perhaps too much of sophistication killed the simplicity of it all- I am not sure. Kids in my neigbourhood (now they become kids of the grown up kids that I’ve known) no longer go around with their laterns at night in groups, neither do anyone chose to light candles in their expensive automatic electrical gates. Everyone just stay at home to watch TV- in fact, most family no longer make the effort to gather together anymore. Instead, you will find mostly the younger generations gathering at pubs, 24 hours eateries or the mamak stall. Times have really changed….
Still, for those who are celebrating or for those who are unable to go back to their families to celebrate, I wish you all Happy Mooncake Festival
Check out my article on How Not to Overeat During Mooncake Festival…