Light the lanterns, munch on mooncakes and peel a pomelo! Mid-Autumn Festival is here in Singapore.
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 21 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 21 September this year, the festivities begin from early September to early October. Enjoy an array of light-ups around the city, delish mooncakes (these signify 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 2021
Celebration of Tradition Mid-Autumn 2021 at Chinatown
7 Sep – 5 Oct
The annual festival gives us an array of online activities such as mooncake-making workshops, giveaways, virtual heritage trails and a 360-degree virtual tour of Chinatown and the Mid-Autumn Street Light-up. Speaking of which, mark your cals on 7 September for a livestream of the official light-up and opening ceremony. The massive light-up will combine traditions with modern design, so expect sculptured lanterns, flowers and greetings dotting Chinatown.
Celebration of Tradition Mid-Autumn 2021, online and at Chinatown
Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens By The Bay
15 Sep – 3 Oct
Gardens by the Bay presents a series of grand attractions including two community lantern displays titled “Colonnade of Lights” and “Origami Crane Trees”. You’ll be wowed by 1,000 round paper lanterns and 2,000 folded origami cranes penned with blessings by community groups. But the highlight has to be the “Sky Lanterns” display on a Supertree where a set of lanterns will float towards a full moon. Livestream cultural performances are also set to take place during weekends.
Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens By The Bay, online and at Flower Dome, Outdoor Gardens, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953
Wan Qing Mid-Autumn Festival 2021
31 Aug – 26 Sep
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall is rife with activities for everyone at home this Mid-Autumn Festival. Put your creative skills to the test by creating your own lantern using upcycled materials. Or practise language and problem-solving skills with fun riddles. Don’t worry, hints will be given along the way. Or download the “Let’s Celebrate with Uncle Ting: Mid-Autumn Festival” activity booklet to learn about festival traditions and origins. Finally, make your way to the lawn for an outdoor installation featuring four large lanterns. Created by Thai artist Boonyavee Boonsakda (Ngaew Ngaew), the displays are inspired by the Jade Rabbit from Chinese folklore.
Wan Qing Mid-Autumn Festival 2021, available online and at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
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!