In China and throughout many Asian countries, Chinese people celebrate the Harvest Moon on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Lunar calendar. The date in the Western calendar changes annually. This year, it falls on Monday, September 12, which is today.
The Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) is a day of family reunions much like Thanksgiving in the West. Chinese people believe that on this day, the moon is at its roundest and brightest, symbolising a time of completeness and abundance. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, children are allowed to stay up past midnight, parading multi-colored lanterns into the wee hours as families take to the streets to ‘moon-gaze’.
It is also a romantic night for lovers, who sit holding hands on hilltops, riverbanks and park benches, captivated by the brightest moon of the year! Of course, the feasting is accompanied by good wine and a wide variety of mooncakes. In multi-racial Singapore, celebration of this festival is encouraging. This year, besides the Chinatown light up, there is a Mass Lantern Walk at Hong Lim Park.
Private houses in Singapore usually don’t put up lanterns for this festival. Except for my house. I want to keep the meaning of this festival alive. Each year, we enjoy hanging up lanterns and seeing the entire house brightly lit at night. This year, Siti returned from her hometown just in time to help with the lanterns. Last night, I drove my mother, Siti and our dog to Chinatown and the Singapore River. Tonight, I look forward to reuniting with friends and family members.
A friend in China helped me with these somewhat literal translations for two of the most famous Chinese poems which I find appropriate for tonight’s festivities.
Thoughts in the Silent Night (静夜思) by Li Bai (李白)
The moonlight is shinning through the window (床 前 明 月 光)
And it makes me wonder if it is the frost on the ground (疑 是 地 上 霜),
Looking up to see the moon … (举 头 望 明 月)
Looking down I miss my hometown (低 头 思 故 乡).
The Moon Festival (水调歌头) by Su Shi (苏轼)
Bright moon, when was your birth? (明月几时有)
Wine-cup in hand, I ask the deep blue sky;(把酒问青天)
Not knowing what year it is tonight (不知天上宫阙)
In those celestial palaces on high. I long to fly on the wind, (今夕是何年,我欲乘风归去)
Yet dread those crystal towers, those courts of jade,（又恐琼楼玉宇）
Freezing to death among those icy heights! （高处不胜寒）
Instead I rise to dance with my pale shadow;（起舞弄清影）
Better off, after all, in the world of men.（何似在人间）
Rounding the red pavilion,（转朱阁）
Stooping to look through gauze windows,（低绮户）
She shines on the sleepless.（照无眠）
The moon should know no sadness;（不因有恨）
Why, then, is she always full when dear ones are parted? （何事长向别时圆）
For men the grief of parting, joy of reunion,（人有悲欢离合）
Just as the moon wanes and waxes, is bright or dim:（月有阴晴圆缺）
Always some flaw and so it has been since of old.（此事古难全）
My one wish for you, is long life，（但愿人长久）
And a share in this loveliness far, far away! （千里共婵娟）
On this day, I am celebrating something else. Deanie Ip won the best actress at the Venice Film Festival, for her role in Ann Hui’s ‘A Simple Life’. This poster highlights a black-and-white photomontage featuring her and a 8-year-old Andy Lau. The film is based on the true story of the relationship between the film’s producer Roger Lee and a family servant, who took care of him for more than 60 years. Here, I congratulate Ann and Deanie, and wish their movie, on a heart-warming familial relationship, will shine as bright as the full mid autumn moon.