The Mid Autumn Festival aka Mooncake Festival aka Lantern Festival is celebrated among the Chinese in Singapore. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar (in September or October). The myth has it that ten suns arose in the past, and a man named Hou Yi shot nine of them down with his bow and arrows. A deity then rewarded Hou Yi with an elixir that could give immortality for his deed. However Hou YI wanted to remain with Chang Er, his wife and did not take the elixir. While Hou Yi was out of the house, one of his disciples wanted to steal the elixir, which Chang Er then quickly consumed before he could do so. She then drifted off to the moon.
[caption id="attachment_1755" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Traditional lanterns lighted with a candle in the middle[/caption]Though associated with deities and prayers, this festival is largely marked by exchanges of mooncakes between family, relatives, friends and business associates in Singapore. Families would take their children lantern carrying around the neighbourhood and the kids would also play with sparkles (because fireworks are banned here). Some families also gather to enjoy some mooncakes and moon-gaze because the moon would be the fullest on the 15th day of the lunar calendar. It's great to brew some Chinese tea to go with the mooncakes because they can taste pretty sweet. You will see the pomelo fruit spouting up, not on trees here, but at fruit stalls too during this period. The light citrus fruit complements the rich-tasting mooncakes too.
The filling in the traditional version of a mooncake is lotus paste with salted egg yolk. You can get the traditional ones with just the lotus paste, but most locals, especially the older folks, love the salted egg yolks. There are mooncakes with double the salted egg yolks - really unhealthy and also really yummy. Since eating is THE past time in Singapore, the chefs and bakers have created mooncakes filled durian (needless to say), chocolate, lychee martini, green tea (and the list goes on) flavours and even ice-cream. These modern fillings are usually covered in 'snowskin' (mochii), instead of the traditional brown crust like what you see above. Prices can range between $20 to $80 for a box of 4 mooncakes and can be bought from most bakeries, restaurants and hotels. Many shopping malls will also hold mass mooncake selling events for about 2 weeks where all the vendors will gather. It is pretty exciting because you get to sample mooncakes from so many stalls that you actually feel like you had a full dinner after that. Of course you can expect the crowd but hey, that's all part of the exprience! Mooncakes are seasonal and only go on sale about one and a half months before the festival.
You can also visit Chinatown during this festive period because the streets would be lit up!