Mid-autumn festival: Then and Now

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?

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4 thoughts on “Mid-autumn festival: Then and Now

  1. Janet Law

    It was a big deal to me too. My dad used to hand make a lantern for me every year. My other cousins envied me when I went out with my special lantern. Then when I grew older, my dad didn’t make me lanterns anymore. He took me and my cousins to the park and played the most dangerous gamer ever — wax boiling XD. (My dad is actually a bad naughty child) We burnt wax in a metal mooncake container and pour water in. That was really insane and dangerous, but it was one of my memorable activities in mid-autumn festival.
    And now, we all grow up and many of my cousins are living aboard. Mid-autumn festival to me is just a day to take a rest, mark composition and finish off school work. =__=

  2. I admit that I’ve been a very lucky person. My Dad bought me beautiful lanterns in the shapes of butterflies and rabbits. We sat round a coffee table eating mooncake and taros (my favourite) in the moonlight on the balcony. My mom lighted incense sticks and told us to bow to Miss Sheung Ngo. The most naughty thing we did once was that my silbings and I played lanterns in our bedroom and accidently one of our lanterns was burnt, it dropped and set the carpet on fire. Of course we were then scolded to death. The black mark left on the carpet had reminded us of the accident for years.

    Harold has made two lanterns so far with the help of his dad. They’re craft assignments actully. He did carry his own product walking at the podium last year! He already refused to do the same this year.

    Me too, Janet! I need to mark compositions during the holidays too.

  3. Lucky you, Becky. In my days, most parents were too busy (working 24/7) to celebrate a festival with their children. And fathers, even if they had the time, had to put on their authority airs and would not actually play with their kids

  4. I used to make pomelo latterns every year too! I never liked those plastic latterns sold in shops. A pomelo lattern releases a very fresh smell once you light a candle in it.

    Children born in this materialistic era are actuallydeprived of a lot of fun. When I was small, my family was not particularly poor but my mum and dad did not encourage the idea that parents should buy kids whatever they want.

    Back in my days, every child has Monopoly at home and plays Gameboy, a fancy video game capsule that cost $700 HKD (that’s a lot of money for a toy 20 years ago). My brothers and I did not have toys so we used a big piece of paper to build our own monopoly game. We created not only the chess board by naming every street and estate on it and decorating them with drawings and colour but also created the entire deck of “monopoly land leases”.

    To be honest, the process of creating the ‘fake monopoly’ itself is more fun than actually playing the game! We spent days to complete the entire game set, which I am sure is more satisfying than getting a real game set from a shop. (Making a fake gameboy out of waste boxes and paper was our second project. It was really stupid to try to “make” an electronic device out of paper but again we were very creative!)

    If I have a child one day, I won’t buy him toys either! Hahahaha~

    Olive XD

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