Watching the Dragon dancers go about their Moon Festival celebration, I can’t help remember my Moon Festival with lantern and moon cakes. You just put a candle in the middle of that lantern, and the heat would turn those cardboard merry-go-round to your amusement.
My Moon Festival pre-dated television and internet. In fact, all of my childhood games were self-invented before the arrival of those Chinese plastic toys. We made our own kites ( from old newspaper), telephones (tin cans), soccer ball (coke can) and facebook chat (tossing my love lines scribbling on a piece of crumbling paper).
Moon cakes were wicked sweet: they must be shared to spread the sugary ration evenly (quite a few Vietnamese now get Diabetes). When Neil Armstrong and his crew got to and came back from the Moon, it did not demystify those Moon tales for me. We Children just wanted to have fun. And Moon Festival Celebration was ours, forever.
Nowadays, people have co-opted it and made it into a socially gifted occasion in and outside of work.
But in its pure and true forms, Mid-Autumn Festival was for children and the feminine Moon figure (as opposed to the harsh Sun).
The Eastern calendar is still based on Moon cycles.
I would join kids in the neighborhood in a lantern parade (quite a few got burned down).
I even got lost in the moving crowd once (my sister and her search party eventually found me swept away in a march).
Later, when I ran some events for MCI, I even put on costume and make-ups to become a clown for Moon Festival (even my daughter couldn’t recognize me then).
Moon Festival is here to stay, despite warp attempts by confectionery companies to push sugar and flour.
The festival is not just about the cakes. It is the spirit of innocence, of appreciation for the unknown or unknowable out there.
It represents cycles (crescent then full then crescent again). It advocates harmony, not chaos, peace not war.
I thought of John Lennon and his Christmas song (with the backup singing voice of children).
Or the Halloween festival with pumpkin pie and silly costumes. We were once children. Let’s not forget how we once thought of our neighbors and our neighborhood. We don’t go about slitting people’s throats for visual and terror effects. We don’t promise outrageous returns on investment to eat new comers alive (in a Ponzi scheme). We don’t throw children into the gas chamber. Yet in the real versions of our adult world, all this has happened. And good men just stood by, immobile while holding his mobile phones.
Don’t Dream It’s Over (there are tales of war and of waste, but we turned right over to the TV page) by Crowded House.
I couldn’t tell you when exactly did I lose my innocence. I can only recall fragments of the past, which Moon Festival played a big part. I knew then as I know now, I was part of a big community who shares the same view of the world, or the Moon, at least. That it is there at night, every night, watching and witnessing humanity and all its frailty.
Let the Dragon dance team do its kung-fu moves. They deserve those tips. After all, it takes a lot of practice to master the art and skills of climbing on top of one another in those silly and hot costumes. My Moon Festival. Too bad I can’t pass them on to my children via facebook. Or light those candles in the dark once again. Thank Goodness, we got our sister Moon to brighten up our nights, twice a month, on the dot.