On Saturday, Ravi and I were trying to figure out what to do for a date. Although there are several American movies out right now that I want to see, none of them are playing in Singapore. We’ve had quiet date nights in for a few weeks running, so that wasn’t attractive. And we both haven’t been spending as much time with E as we’d like to. So I decided to go to a cool website that highlights all the stuff that’s going on in Singapore (called insing…creative, isn’t it?) and learned that it was the weekend of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Let us all stop for a moment and be entertained that by the Western Calendar (the one I grew up using in New England, where we have all 4 seasons with a vengeance) Autumn hadn’t even started on September 18th. “Mid-Autumn” struck me as odd, but I went with it, and hastily went to the lazy student’s favorite source of research….Wikipedia
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the few most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the others being Chinese New Year and Winter Solstice, and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together.
read more about it in the Wikipedia article here
I’ve seen mooncakes, and I’ve read posts about mooncakes (Tiny Island has 3 great posts about mid-autumn festival and mooncakes here, here, and here….and my fellow expat American pal Suddenly in Asia posted about her less enthusiastic experience with mooncakes here) and because I am a giant baby about new foods, I did NOT try any, even if they are THE thing to eat for this moon-worship festival.
What I did find were two activities that might be fun with Elanor. The first was held at the City Square Mall (which some of my friends will be interested to learn is an “eco-friendly mall”–see what that means here)…they were doing some kid friendly events, and were trying to make the largest lantern out of origami bunnies.
If E had been older, she could have made her own lantern, gone on a lantern procession and heard the story of the “moon fairy.” As it was, she got a free goody bag, that included a paper lantern (sadly destroyed within a few minutes) and a giant lolly pop.
The tough part of having an (almost) 2 year old is that you want to take them out and teach them about the cool things going on, or important days, but they really are a bit too young to participate.
Having said that, the drummers who performed were a big hit with Ella.
But not long after we realized that we had exhausted the activities that E could participate in (and that it was getting late) and decided to move onto our second destination-Clarke Quay, where we could walk past some impressive lanterns and from where E and B could easily walk home while R and I had a nice dinner alone.
I’ll save most of the pics for tomorrow’s Wordless Wednesday, but I will say that this was one of the most crowded events I’ve been to in Singapore. Obviously it shows that I’ve never been in town for any of the Chinese New Year events. We inched forward at a glacial pace, and I was constantly worried about smacking the person in front of me with the stroller (sorry, when you stop that quickly, even if I’m going slow, I’m going to bump into you). But it was well worth it, and E’s eyes got almost as big as they did when she Elmo at Sesame Street Live.
The lanterns are really something to see. They range from flowers and details as small as your hand to large floating scenes, complete with motion. The dragon (2nd picture) is easily the length of a city bus (perhaps even a small bit longer!). These are (I think) the largest display of their kind (where the lanterns are characters) but there are equally impressive lantern displays throughout the city (and Chinatown will keep doing lantern related activities through early October–I’ll have to try to get down there at some point–it’s just not an easily navigated place with a stroller or a toddler–see the links to Tiny Island for some Chinatown pics if you can’t wait).
More pics for tomorrow’s Wordless Wednesday