Monday, 8 September 2008

Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节

This year's festival falls on Sunday, 14 September 2008. The decorations and festivities are in full swing since Sunday, 31 August 2008.

This year's theme, Mid-Autumn Festival By The River, is best appreciated if you were to take a trip down the Singapore river during the weekends when chinese dances, calligraphy, puppet-making demonstrations, tai-chi performances, etc are in full swing.

At the constituency level, ministers, members of parliaments and other community leaders participated in various activities such as lantern-making competition, mooncakes sampling, chinese tea-drinking session, etc.

Ever since US astronaut, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1968, some believers have stopped their practice of making offerings (mooncakes notwithstanding) and praying to the moon.

They are disillusioned with the mythology of observing this practice. The different legends that have been passed on from generation to generation are not congruent with what the historical moon-walking feat had uncovered on television.

Despite this, mooncakes (the so-called cantonese varieties, in particular) continue to be offered as gifts (more creative fillings such as strawberry, green tea flavour, etc have crept into mooncake-making) to business associates, clients, close relatives, and other loved ones during the festival. 

The below teochew and hokkien versions of mooncakes have more flaky pastries, and are less impressive.

Paper lanterns which used to be popular with children in the 1960s/1970s are not in the vogue nowadays in Singapore.   

Teochew-style pastries from China see dwindling sales over the years.

They are sought after by the older generations of customers, and those who have caught up with the taste.

Traditional piglet-shaped pastry packed in attractive cages to entice children into buying them as collection items.

Incidentally, the cages are replicas of rattan cages that were used to transport pigs in the old days of Singapore.

Pomelos used to be a mandatory item for the altar, and they continued to be sold in abundance at this time of the year as many consumers have grown accustomed to the fruit over the years.

Creativity has crept into the making of the pastries and ingredients of the traditional mooncakes over the years.   The traditional pastries and recipes are still popular, but more appealing and attractive recipes using ingredients such as durian ( a popular fruit with Singaporeans ), red dates, strawberry, yam, green tea, and chocolates.

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