Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Why Are We Celebrating Autumn?


Please get this right. We have no seasons in Singapore.  It is either,  hot, humid, rainy or the governmental elections season.  However, Singaporeans will always find a reason to celebrate regardless of occasion and season.  When our friends in the Northern hemisphere celebrate a winter white Christmas, I found it quite amusing that one of the local malls would be decked out in Christmas decoration with glitter-dusted cardboard cut-out snowflakes hanging all across the ceiling.  Furthermore, a giant inflatable snowman would sit outside the mall’s entrance, next to a snow machine that pumps out real snow.  I often found that odd and hoped that no small kids were mentally impacted by this ludicrous picture of a snowman and real snow in the tropics.

This month, we would be celebrating Autumn.  I knew Autumn was at our hot and humid doorstep when I could not find nice dresses in the shops.  The clothes racks at every shop were filled with fur-lined, fur-collared, quilted and woolly things. When I had decided to comfort myself by browsing for nice sandals at the shoe shop, I was dismayed to find boots of different lengths and colours lined up at the shop window…some even were fur-lined. For goodness sakes, we are in the tropics!

Tomorrow, Chinese all over the world will be celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival with Mooncakes and colourful lanterns.  I was not even sure when Autumn began in Singapore, yet we would be celebrating mid-Autumn tomorrow.  I started surfing the internet for more information about the Mid-Autumn festival last week.  It was part of my commitment to revisit my Chinese roots, if you remembered my last blog post at

My research uncovered that the Mid-Autumn festival was surrounded by ancient myths.  One version of the myth was that in ancient China, there was an archer called Hou Yi who successfully shot down  9 out of the 10 suns that appeared in the sky to scorch and destroy the land.  He left only 1 sun in existence to provide light and life, not allowing the earth to fall into darkness.  Celebrated for his prowess, he became King and married the lady Chang Er.  Over time, Hou Yi became a despot obsessed about continuing his rule by searching for an elixir.  This elixir promised eternal life.  When the elixir was found,  Chang Er decided to consume it instead in a bid to prevent her husband from continuing his despotic rule forever.  She then transformed into a fairy and flew to the Moon on which she lived.    The grateful people on earth lighted their lanterns on earth so that Chang Er could see them from the moon.  That is why today, the Chinese hang lanterns around their homes during this festival.    Hou Yi grieved for his beloved wife so he put out a table of offerings of cakes and sweets to honour her every Autumn.  Today, the Chinese consumed moon-shaped cakes with the same intent to honor her.   To find out more about Chang Er, do read it at .  

The Mid-Autumn festival was always a wonderful gathering of family members enjoying Mooncakes and sipping tea under the light of the full moon, while children carried lanterns and ran across the garden.  Sometimes, if you were lucky, you might hear a scream from the kitchen when a child’s lantern caught fire and his or her mother came running with a kettle of water to put the fire out.  Often the mother and her visibly shaken child would be okay, but it was totally hilarious for the rest of us peering from the other side of the fence.

Mum will be cooking up a storm to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival tomorrow.  Our dessert would be the ubiquitous Mooncakes in different flavours.  I personally liked the ice-cream Mooncakes, but Mum thought it was an abomination to the Chinese culture.  She did not rate the chocolate, truffle-filled and lychee martini ones either, and thought they were too ”angmo” for her.  So I had decided to get my own Mooncakes – Hello Kitty ones.  I even got a Hello Kitty lantern to match.

Mum saw festivals like these as an opportunity to gather as a family.  I saw them as an opportunity to relive the memories of my childhood.  Autumn was not about the weather becoming colder, the leaves turning from green to a rusty gold and certainly not about the calorie-laden Mooncakes.  It was a season that celebrated my childhood, and I knew every year that when Mid-Autumn festival came around, it would not be too long before  the “cold-wintry-white” season of Christmas would arrive.  That was yet another wonderful opportunity to relive my childhood memories.

About the writer:
The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketing professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders.  She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head".   Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.

Hello Kitty Mooncakes.  Too cute.  They came packaged in this Hello Kitty bag.

Hello Kitty lantern.  Super cute.

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