Light the lanterns, munch on mooncakes and peel a pomelo! Mid-Autumn Festival is here.
Who else loves that Singapore is a multicultural city? From having three religious monuments side by side in one street (looking at you, Chinatown!) to celebrating festivals like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali, we’re a cultural bunch. Come September, we’re prepping for Mid-Autumn Festival. Here’s everything you need to know…
What’s the significance of Mid-Autumn Festival?
Also known as Mooncake Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (autumn season), hence the moniker. It marks the end of the autumn harvest and the Hungry Ghost Festival, and was traditionally a time of thanksgiving to the gods.
This 2,000-odd-year-old festival is also believed to originate from the tradition of worshipping the moon during the Song Dynasty. To celebrate, families and friends come together for moon-viewing parties (it’s known to shine the brightest during this period), with lanterns, mooncakes and autumn fruits like pomelo.
The folklore that has us over the moon
Just like many festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival is rife with mythical stories. The most bittersweet and popular folklore follows the Moon Goddess, Chang’e. Her husband Hou Yi was a Chinese archer who saved the world from burning to ashes by shooting down nine blazing suns, leaving just one. He was rewarded with an elixir of immortality but decided not to consume it to be with his wife. Knowing about the elixir, a greedy apprentice Peng Meng broke into Hou Yi’s house but was caught by Chang’e. In a turn of events, Chang’e drank the elixir and floated to the moon.
Left alone on earth, the devastated Hou Yi prepared a feast each year when the moon glowed the brightest, just to catch a glimpse of his wife. It soon turned into a tradition of offering worship to the Moon Goddess.
Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore
Even though the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 1 October this year, Singapore celebrates from 17 September to 16 October. Enjoy an array of light-ups around the city, delish mooncakes (it signifies family reunion) and magical moon-viewing parties filled with lanterns at your nearest park. Hotels and restaurants begin the sale of mooncakes from as early as two months before the main event (you’ll love our roundup of traditional and unique mooncakes). We’ll see a scaled-down version this year due to Covid-19 and safe distancing measures, but there are still plenty of events to reel in the festivities.
Exciting events for Mid-Autumn Festival
Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2020
17 Sep – 16 Oct
The annual festival goes digital for the first time with photo contests, lantern painting and even an online escape room challenge called “Chronicles of Chinatown”. Mark your cals on 17 September for a live stream of the official light-up and opening ceremony. The massive light-up will see around 700 sculptures dotted around Chinatown.
Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2020, online
Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens By The Bay
18 Sep – 4 Oct
Gardens by the Bay will be throwing a grand (but safe) affair with a series of online and virtual events. Witness various stages of apricot flower blooming at The Apricot Grove, whip your phone out for the dreamy Royal Family’s Walk display at the Supertree Grove, and check out Illuminations of Joy, an installation of 400 hand-coloured lanterns inspired by those old school cellophane ones. Stay tuned for the launch of all virtual programmes on 18 September.
Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens By The Bay, online and at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953
Now that we’ve filled you in on all the deets, are you excited to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore this year? We sure are!