Parenting Tips

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mid Autumn Festival

It is also known as the Moon Cake Festival. In Singapore, the varieties of moon cakes available are just numerous. They can be broken into 3 generations:

1st generation – traditional ones with sweet fillings of nuts, mashed red beans, lotus-seed paste or Chinese dates. To add flavour, salted egg yolk(s) are also found in some of them.

2nd generation – snow-skin varieties

3rd generation – different flavours such as durian, green tea, corn, rum and many more.

While we enjoy these delicacies, we should also let the children know the myths and legends about the festival. Basically, there are 2 versions:

The Story of Chang-Er
Long ago, the earth was in a state of havoc because there were 10 suns in the sky. These were the sons of the Jade Emperor.

The suns caused rivers to dry up, lands became barren and many people died. The Jade Emperor then asked Hou Yi to persuade his sons to rise up away from the earth to end the catastrophe. Hou Yi was a great archer. When Hou Yi he failed to persuade the suns to leave the sky, he launched arrows at the suns, shooting them down one by one. Before the last sun was shot, his wife, Chang-Er pleaded with him to save it to keep the earth warm and bright.

The Jade Emperor was furious with Hou Yi for slaying his sons. Hou Yi and Chang-Er were then forced to stay on earth. To please his unhappy wife, Hou Yi took great pains to gather herbs from Royal Mother for the elixir of life. This would help them to ascend to Heaven again. However, the angry Chang-Er stole the elixir and consumed all of it. She flew up to the moon where she remained all alone in the Moon Palace.

This sad story was written 3,000 years later by the Tang poet, Li Shang-yin. There are several versions of this story but this is the more popular one.

On the 15th of the 8th lunar month every year, the moon is at its brightest and loveliest. all Chinese around the world would look at the moon and remember Chang-Er and her legend.

Moon Cakes
Moon cakes became part of the Mid-Autumn Festival during the Yuan dynasty (1280 1368 A.D.) China was ruled by the Mongolians then. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (960-1280 A.D.) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule. They set out to co-ordinate a rebellion. The leaders of the rebellion took opportunity of the Moon Festival and ordered the making of special cakes. Packed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) was then formed.

Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this event.

To complement the occasion, lanterns are a must. The most common one are the paper folding type that requires the lighting of candles. The modern ones are battery-operated with many varieties of shapes and sizes. Some also come with music and are popular with children.

It has been a hazy day and the moon is not visible tonight. Parents, perhaps it is safer to stay indoors and just enjoy moon cakes with your family.


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