BY SCENE SHANG
SEE: The Bright, Full Moon And Her Inspired Films & Literature
“May we all be blessed with longevity. Though thousands of miles apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.”, an excerpt from Prelude to Water Melody by Su Shi.
The moon’s beauty has inspired countless art and literature, often written in moments of reminiscing and yearning. People who travel away from home would look up at the sky, knowing that their loved ones could see the same moon, which created a sense of longing and unity despite the distance.
Since way back, people would hold moon-viewing ceremonies for a multitude of reasons. Young girls asked the Moon Goddess Chang’ e, for beauty, romance, and marital bliss. As the Chinese believe that round shapes symbolise unity and fertility, married women and their families would give offerings and wish for successful pregnancies.
Don’t worry if you do not have a good view of the moon from your windows, take a trip to space with a high-quality replay of the moon from The Japanese SELENE Orbiter here, or evoke the feeling of a solitary walk through a moonlit garden with Nasa’s visualisation, played to Claude Debussy's best-known composition, Clair de Lune (moonlight in French), here.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Virtual Telescope Project’s livestream of the Moon above the stunning skyline of Rome, Italy, held in conjunction with Nasa’s International Observe the Moon Night on 26 Sep 2020, 19:00 UTC (27 Sep 2020, 03:00 Singapore Time)
After admiring the full moon, spend the rest of the night watching a film with your family or have a ponder with meaningful literature. You may like —
Go on a mystical adventure with the epic Chinese fantasy animation film Big Fish and Begonia, whisk yourself away into the world of Japanese animation with Studio Ghibli films, or keep your eyes peeled for Over The Moon, a Mid-Autumn inspired movie, coming soon on Netflix, 28 October 2020.
Prelude to Water Melody - Su Shi
The Moon Festival - Su Shi
Quiet Night Thought - Li Bai
To The Moon - P.B. Shelley
I Watched The Moon Around The House - Emily Dickinson
EAT: More Than Just Sweet Mooncakes & Tea
Mooncakes are much smaller today so most of us share more than one, or even indulge in one all to ourselves. Back in the day, if a member was not home, their portion would be stored away for them to eat when they return.
Now, instead of making and enjoying mooncakes together on the night of Mid-Autumn, we maintain familial unity with the tradition of gifting store-bought mooncakes.
Modern snowskin mooncakes have seemingly overtaken its traditional counterpart with countless new and interesting flavours. Other than the common baked mooncakes filled with lotus paste and the optional salted egg-yolk, red bean paste, or five kernel, did you know of the other lesser-known traditional variations?
For example, the Cantonese flaky crust, Ningbo’s spicy filling, Suzhou’s meat filling, and Yunnan’s flower filling. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not get a few interesting flavours and have a taste test with your loved ones?
Rich mooncakes can sit heavy on your stomach. Elegantly sip on some tea to ease digestion while you have an intelligent discussion about legends and literature.
Besides having tea with your mooncakes, enjoy them with osmanthus wine. Otherwise known as the reunion wine, osmanthus wine is made by rice wine left to age with beautiful osmanthus flowers — leaving mellow, sweet, and floral notes in the alcohol which is perfect for sipping under the moonlight.
For a kid-friendly option, pair osmanthus jelly with your mooncakes and tea for your loved ones to enjoy the sweet, floral notes. Recipe here.
Highlight the taste of your mooncakes with unconventional pairings. Elevate your mooncake eating experience with cocktails! Try this cocktail recipe with osmanthus flowers for a contemporary spin: Oriole’s G&T Tisane; or try this moon-inspired alternative: Full Moon Martini.
DO: Muse About Legends & Bask in Candlelight
Ask your friends and family about what they know about the Mid-Autumn legends — stories that many of us are familiar with, yet there are numerous variations — you may be surprised by how different the stories can get!
Here are the most common variations that we at SCENE SHANG are familiar with, do you agree?
The Moon Goddess, Chang’e
Long ago, there were 10 suns in the sky. Hou Yi, a famous archer, shot 9 of the suns down, leaving one so that the world would not be in darkness. He became a beloved hero and soon after, married the beautiful Chang’e. As thanks, the Heavenly Queen Mother gifted him a bottle of elixir that would make him immortal.
Hou Yi left the bottle at home with Chang’e for safekeeping. While he was gone, one of his students, Peng Meng, decided to betray Hou Yi and tried to get the elixir. In an attempt to ensure that Peng Meng did not get his hands on the elixir, Chang’e drank it all. She felt her body get lighter and lighter and started to float away. This forced her to fly to the moon where she would stay in the Moon Palace forever.
Wu Gang the Woodcutter aspired to be an immortal but never worked hard enough. To teach him a lesson, the Emperor of Heaven planted an osmanthus tree on the Moon and ordered him to chop it down in order to become immortal. However, it was a self-healing tree, rendering the task impossible. Moreover, only after he chops the tree down and gains powers, can he then fly himself back to Earth. In modern Chinese, the chéng yǔ (Chinese idiom) 吳剛伐桂 wú gāng fá guì, "Wu Gang chopping the tree", is used to describe any endless toil.
The Jade Rabbit
Once, three Gods disguised themselves as beggars and asked a monkey, fox, and rabbit for food. The monkey and fox foraged for fruits and food but the rabbit could only gather grass. Ashamed of its offerings, the rabbit jumped into the fire, sacrificing his own flesh. The Gods were touched by his selfless act and sent him to the moon as an immortal God. He soon became the loyal companion of the Moon Goddess, Chang’e.
On top of symbolising unity and fertility, lanterns originally served as a light source by people looking for moon viewing spots. Before the battery-powered lanterns with LED-lights and music, lanterns used to be made out of coloured paper and even fruits such as pomelo.
The most common shapes were that of animals, flowers, and plants. While most were paraded on sticks, some sailed down rivers or flew high up into the sky. The colourful lanterns created a festive atmosphere that delighted the children. It soon became an essential component of the celebration’s decorations and activities.
Here are some melodies to play in the background while you bask in the glow of the candlelight, in the warmth of home. Enjoy this Mid-Autumn Spotify playlist that we have put together specially for you, with the ones you hold dear: