When the sun sets and the moon shines brightest, Singapore streets, shops, and restaurants boast glowing harlequin paper lanterns, a wide assortment of mooncakes and tea, and traditional Chinese crafts and festivities.
Every year, Singapore’s Chinese community celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which marks the end of autumn harvest and gives thanks to the gods, especially the Moon Goddess. As the story goes, Chang E, the wife of a ruthless king, drank an elixir of immortality to save her people from him. Chang E ascended to the moon and became the Moon Goddess.
My housemates and I decided to check out the Mid-Autumn Festival at Gardens by the Bay. Large, intricate lanterns took the form of flowers, fish, a rooster, a dragon, and moving cranes. They casted soft ambers, reds, and purples against passersby’s faces as they made their way around Supertree Grove. The Grove offered a vast array of stalls showcasing traditional Chinese art, some of my favorites being sugar art, rice writing, and silk painting. Many stalls sold the usual handheld paper lantern lit by candle wax as well as a more modern, battery-powered, plastic lantern.
And oh, food galore. I didn’t know it was possible to love food more than I already do. Adjacent to the lanterns and the Supertree light show, food vendors sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the street market, catering to a salivating throng of customers. Everything was cheap, most items $5 or under. We pooled money into a towering tornado potato stick, dragon breath (a frozen cereal-like snack dipped in liquid nitrogen), scallion pancakes, sotong balls, popping candy, a mystery iced “blue tea” and okonomiyaki topped with dancing bonito flakes.
Absorbed by the sights and smells of the food market, we accidentally missed most of the first Supertree light show. On the bright side, we were able to save a spot on the grass and watch a few traditional dances while we waited. This light show actually takes places two times every night, but for the Mid-Autumn Festival, they had changed the list of songs to include soothing Chinese melodies as well as some good oldies like Blue Moon.
As the night came to a close, we wandered around the craft stalls, bought some delicious tea, and tried our best to take pictures next to the lanterns (the lighting was not the best; we made do with impromptu lighting with our phone flashlights).
On the way back to the MRT, I spotted a few couples and families sprawled on the grass or benches, gazing quietly at the moon and enjoying one another’s company.
Check out this video! (It may begin halfway through… Be sure to click on the beginning one it’s started to view the full video!).