Tonight is the eve of the Mid-autumn festival. Tomorrow is a public holiday, and I guess for many people in Hong Kong (including me), it’s going to be just another public holiday. When did I stop feeling excited about the Mid-autumn festival? Can I ever bring myself to feel excited about the Mid-autumn festival again?
I’m asking this question because I remember clearly that when I was a little boy, I started feeling excited at least two weeks before the Festival Day. One month prior to the festival, shops began to sell lanterns, and restaurants began to sell moon cakes. The lanterns came in different shapes, and the moon cakes came in different flavours. Although my family was struggling to make ends meet (like most families in Hong Kong at the time), moon cakes were still a must. And as I was constantly hungry, every ration of moon cake from my mother was welcomed with a watering mouth and a pair of greedy eyes. Other than the Chinese New Year, the mid-Autumn festival was the only time when I could have a bit of luxurious snack food.
But lanterns were definitely a luxury, which my mother would not squander money on. However, that didn’t deter me from making my own lanterns. The most common trick at the time for boys was to cut up the skin of an eaten pomelo into slices, attach a string to one slice, put a lighted candle on it, place the whole thing on the ground, and pull it along from one place to another. During those two weeks, you would see hundreds of boys pulling around and showing off their homemade ‘lanterns’ in public places. That was great fun.
In those days, the Mid-autumn festival was a big day for every child.
What about today?
Of course today’s children have too many ‘holidays’ and ‘festivals’ already. They don’t need to wait till a major festival to be treated to delicious snacks. Their parents will buy them whatever fancy lanterns they set their eyes on. But how excited are they about the festival? And for how long?
Sure, we don’t want to live in poverty. But when we have enough, and especially when we have more than enough, how can we bring ourselves to enjoy what we have? Why is this ability so difficult for us to acquire? Why is having so much easier than being?