Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mid-Autumn arrives in Chinatown

Or is it? The flowers remind me of Spring. (^^)

30 Aug 2008 this year marks the last day of the month of the Hungry Ghosts (a term used locally to mean the 7th Lunar Month). And so, from 31 Aug 2008 this year, it is the first day of the 8th Lunar Month, which signals the preparation for the 15th of the Lunar Month, which is celebrated by the Chinese as Zhong Qiu Jie or Mid-Autumn Festival. Again, locally, they call it the MoonCake Festival.

Come Mid-Autumn, when we used to offer our prayers to the Moon Goddess with moon-cakes, water caltrops, Pomelo and mini-yams with tea and cake-powder (once popular with the Chinese Ladies who use it to powder their faces) and kids carrying the lanterns, in modern times, it would be different. Lanterns would not be those made of glass papers with candles. But there will still be some. While the eating part continues, there might be less prayers to the Moon Goddess.

The MoonCakes bring along its tales of history in ancient China, just as the bright moon on this 15th Day with its shadows would remind grannies to tell the stories of Chang Er and the rabbit on the moon.

While Chinatown used to be the scene of much activities with the wet marketing selling pomelos, water caltrops, mini yams and moon cakes, these days, one could get them anywhere, everywhere. Moon cakes have gone upmarket with aggressive marketing by hotels, aided by credit card companies. Would there be still queues for the traditional Cantonese moon cake shops in Chinatown like Dai Zhong Kok? I think there will as the elderly folks would still prefer to the traditional taste.

In the days when there were less light and less bright, there was the additional fun as the kids would gather to light up the candles inside their lantern and do the walk. Adults would gather with the neighbours, sharing their peeled pomelos (in those day, the pink ones from Ipoh, Malaysia, were said to be the best), boiled small yams and moon cakes. Dai Zhong Kok's moon cakes used to be the ones. For some, they would come with the tomboh or hammer to crack open the boiled water caltrops to eat.

Would Mid-Autumn Festival be still as exciting to modern kids?

No comments: