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Sep 18, 2013

Ways Done in the Past - Lantern Walk


A small group of children carrying lanterns in the neighborhood in Singapore in the 1970s to celebrate mid-autumn festival.

This is a personal "incidental" blog to express following the previous "Chinatown Mass Lantern Walk 2013" blog to juxtapose the archived photos curated with courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). The old photos of the 1960s and 1970s by respective NAS contributors with thanks and acknowledgement shared on this blog.

How did the children who grew up in Singapore in the past celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?

Did their parents and grandparents pass on the century-old traditional and cultural Chinese festival to their  descendents from one generation to another generation?

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the "Moon Festival" or "Lantern Festival" once a year on the eighth lunar month of the fifteenth day ( ε…«ζœˆεδΊ”) with the most romantic atmosphere and joy. The celebration has become a time for families to get together. The most familiar myth concerning this festival is that Chang-e flying to the moon after secretly drinking her husband's elixir of life. Aside from this, there are also tales of the Jade Rabbit and of "Wu Gang chopping down the cassia tree."

Memorable activities and events at this time include eating moon cakes, which symbolize unity and togetherness; strolling under the full moon; and eating pomelos, since the Chinese term for pomelo sounds like "care and protection".

Tradition, in the true sense of the word, implies a spontaneous assimilation of the past in understanding the present, without a break in the continuity of a society's life, and without considering the past as outmoded.

In its different forms, tradition is like the conscience of a group or the principle of identity that links one generation with another; it enables them to remain the same human race and the same peoples as they go forward throughout history.  To bind a group of people together, across generations. To carve out a social space.

Tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance.

The traditional customs and practices of every ethnic groups in Singapore is not old-fashioned; regardless of whether they are Singaporean Malay, Indian or Chinese tradition since time immemorial.

Unlike fashion which change from season to season, years to years, the significance of tradition and cultural customs and practices are sustainable for every generation. The ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival may change and adapt to present day forms.

The ingredients used in the original traditional mooncakes is very different from those in the early days.  The creative and innovative mooncake makers now sell them to suit local tastes and flavors ... durian, green tea, chocolate and what have you.  In Singapore, the "halal mooncake" are available for fellow Singaporean Muslim to celebrate mid-autumn festival with everyone.

The simple cellophane paper lanterns for children in the old days are now found with creative, imaginative designs and colorful lanterns to attract the young children.  This year, "Angry Birds" becomes the hottest theme, thanks to the hugely popular "Angry Birds" computer game series.

Photo Credit:  AsiaOne News.

Tradition always implies learning from our forefathers, but the academic type of docility and imitation is not the only one possible: there is also the will to learn from the experience of those who have studied and created before us; the aim of this lesson is to receive the vitality of their inspiration and to continue their creative work in its original spirit, which thus, in a new generation, is born again with the freedom, the youthfulness and the promise that it originally possessed.

Lantern Walk in the Past


Fond nostalgic childhood memories are the happy moments of everyone can store in our "memory bank" which money cannot buy.  The little children could not create these childhood memories on their own.  The parents and other adults as a community have to create the meaningful "happenings" and the opportunities for them to remember as they grew up in Singapore.

Many years or decades later, the children could reminisce and revive from old photos and memorabilia (or maybe the first lantern he had as a child) and look back with fond memories - to remember the mid-autumn festivals when they were once young.

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