Friday, October 06, 2006

Mid Autumn Festival

Today is Mid Autumn or Lantern festival. On the Lunar Calendar, it falls on the 15th day of the 8th month.

What are your memories of the Mid Autumn Festival as a child?

I recall each year the excitement of following my mother to Chinatown to select my lantern. They were the traditional type that is fashioned out of bamboo and cellophane paper or crepe paper. I remembered one year, my mother bought me a lovely bunny lantern made out of white crepe paper. Alas, the lantern got burnt as soon as we reached home as I was so anxious to light it up. The rabbit was promptly replaced with a goldfish the next day but this time, my mother hung the lantern high up in the kitchen to prevent me from playing with it too soon lest I should destroy it again. She brought it down only on the night of the festival.

Then there were the memories of the table laden with numerous plates of mooncakes, fruits, kei ji paeng (mooncakes without fillings), pomelos, mini yams and water-caltrops as offerings to the Moon Goddess. Mother would wait for the moon to reach it highest peak before lighting the joss sticks and offering her prayers.

(Clockwise from top: Pomelo, Mini Yams, Water Caltrop, Chinese Spinning Top, Assortment of Mooncakes)
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In the meantime, a mini lantern parade would be started by all the children from the little private estate that we lived in. Even the children from the Indian and Malay families would join in the fun and we would parade around the huge field surrounding our house till our parents called us home. It was such fun then.

And then there was this Chinese Spinning Top that my brother would make for me with water caltrops. A piece of sturdy bamboo skewer would be pushed through two pieces of water caltrops. A little window would be cut into the second caltrop and the flesh dug out leaving only a hollow shell. A piece of yarn is then attached to the bamboo skewer though this little window. To spin the top, you would have to wind the first caltrop so that the yarn gets taken in through the window. Then you tug at the yarn and the top will spin round and round in both directions, much like the recoil action on a yoyo.

The Chinese Spinning Top
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Still very much a child at heart, my brother-in-law would make me this spinning top so that I could relive my childhood memories. I would unabashedly spin this toy much to the amusement of DH, DS and DD, who could not understand why I get so giggly over it. If you have not seen this Chinese Spinning Top, here is a short video (and I mean short, it is only ten seconds in length) showing how the top works. Yup that's me spinning the top while DS uses his mobile phone to film me in action.


Anonymous said...

Hi ginny
Thanks for sharing .... my first time seeing this. The caltrop is hard how you manage to poke the hole?
tia regards from Cecily.

Rusti said...

When raw, the shell is pretty easy to poke a hole and cut. It is after boiling that th shell turns very hard.