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Marking the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival was traditionally a time to give thanks to the gods.

It is also a time of year that the moon is at its brightest, which is why lunar legends have always been attached to the celebration. One of the most notable is the story of Chang Er, the wife of a merciless king who downed the elixir of immortality he had intended to drink, so as to save her people from his tyrannical rule.

The tale goes that she ascended to the moon upon her brave act, and has been worshipped by the Chinese as a Moon Goddess ever since.

When dusk falls
Image of Chang Er light up in Chinatown.

Since the Mid-Autumn Festival is about lunar appreciation, celebrations go into full swing once the sun goes down.

Moon-viewing parties are a popular way to enjoy the occasion, as family and friends sit in gardens lit by the soft glow of paper lanterns, sip tea, nibble on mooncakes, and if so inspired, compose poetry in venerable Tang Dynasty fashion.

Lanterns all a-glow

Children love this festival because they get to tote lanterns. The traditional lanterns with wax candles are made from paper and shaped into everything from cars to cartoon characters. As a sign of the times, there are also plastic, battery-operated versions.

You’ll get to examine the former up close at some of the celebrations around the island, particularly in Chinatown where large beautiful lanterns will be on display—marvels of creativity, artistry and traditional craftsmanship. 

Mad about mooncakes

Without a doubt, mooncakes are the main highlight of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Legend has it that they helped to free Yuan China from Mongol rule, after rebels organised an uprising by passing messages hidden in these seasonal pastries.

Today, you’ll find them in many varieties, from traditional flavours with lotus seed paste and egg yolk, to snowskin versions filled with everything from chocolate to champagne truffle. They are best enjoyed with a strong, palate-cleansing cup of Chinese tea.


Mid-Autumn Festival 2021 is back!

This year’s festival will see a line-up of exciting programmes that will be sure to delight your family and loved ones. Starting from 7 September, look out for over 900 lanterns that will light up the streets of Chinatown and signify the start of the month-long festivities. Themed ‘Celebration of Tradition’, the official opening ceremony and light-up will be livestreamed on social media.

Families can look forward to making their own mooncakes and learn about tea pairing via an online workshop with Kele and Pek Sin Choon, lantern riddles, and even learn how to upcycle and repurpose used mooncake boxes. 

Beyond that, walk through the streets of Chinatown virtually via a 360 virtual tour, and learn from volunteer guides through heritage trails as they share about the culture and heritage of our Chinatown. 

All these and more that everyone can look forward to. Find out more about the festival at https://www.chinatownfestivals.sg

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