Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

/ Nai Seow Hong

Every year when the Mid-Autumn Festival comes around, I would take leave to return to my hometown. It’s not because my family celebrates it in any particularly special way, but it has always been a warm and memorable festival since I was a child. When I was young, the older girls and boys in the neighbourhood would propose a moonlight gathering. The moonlight gathering was not a meeting to discuss how to spend money every month, but a tea party on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival when the full moon is brightest. Each little one would contribute thiry or fifty cents to purchase light snacks or gifts. One of the mainstays of the moonlight gatherings is the game of “Newspaper Baton”. The game organiser would bundle and tie up a stack of newspapers into a baton. The young players then sit in a circle with the newspaper baton in the middle. The person who starts the game picks up the newspaper baton and finds a target. The player then hits the target at the leg and drops the baton back in the middle. If the person who was hit grabs the newspaper baton and hits the person who had just hit him, he can sit back down. However, if the original hitter puts the newspaper baton back and successfully takes the seat of the person whom he had just hit, he gets to sit down.

Each person takes a turn in the game and in the process, we get to see who likes who, or who has a crush on the other. From the intensity of the hit, you can also tell how deep the other party’s feelings are for the other. If the hit is soft, it means neither are familiar with each other and the hitter is too shy to hit too hard. If the hit is heavy, it means they are familiar with one another but at the same time not hard enough to anger the target. After several rounds, the newspaper baton will begin to fray and everyone will move on to other games such as “Do As I Do”, “The Wind Blows” and so on.

In retrospect, the games we used to play seemed a bit rough, but they were all easy to play. Whether it was a small child or an older teen, you can play these games together. At night after the games, neighbours both big and small would carry their own lanterns, including those made of Milo cans, wire, store-bought paper lanterns, or later on, many colourful battery-operated lanterns. Each person carried one and together they paraded around shouting  in Teochew, “Oh oh dong dong, hi di du dong dong (the fire burns), oh oh dong dong, deng nang diok hue sio (the lantern gets burned).”

Although I did not know why such rhymes were being shouted; but in the midst of it someone’s lantern suddenly burns and everyone screams in surprise, followed by laughter as the fire is put out by stomping on it or fanning it out.

After we all grew up, we stopped having moonlight gatherings during the Mid-Autumn Festival. We all have our own lives, busy with our own careers, taking care of our families, furthering our studies and so, gradually moving away. However, it has become a habit to go back during the Mid-Autumn Festival to stay in our childhood homes so full of memories, play with candles and light lanterns with our parents and the children of our siblings. When it comes to lanterns, the traditional paper lanterns are still my favourite. The safe battery-operated ones are bought for children, but paper lanterns are the best choice for hanging and lighting up the entire tree. The candlelight from lanterns is the warmest sight of the Mid-Autumn Festival. How many people have experienced the childhood memory of hanging paper lanterns all over the tree, and how many people will continue to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival this way? Of course, this is assuming there is a tree planted in front of the house.

Although it is a fact that the years make people old, they also add rich experiences to our lives. After my parents passed on, the old tree in front of the house was chopped down. Nowadays the place to hang lanterns is where my sister-in-law has planted all kinds of flowers and plants, and my brother has set up all kinds of shelves not only to place all kinds of potted plants but to also hang lanterns and allow the children to light candles.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming, are you going home too? How are you spending your Mid-Autumn Festival?

May you have a blessed Mid-Autumn Festival whether you’re alone or together with family, and may you be safe and healthy.

 

Introduction of Nirvana Care Grief Care Department

Nirvana Care – Grief Care department, cares for your journey through grief… We provide individual counselling, group support and life education awareness. 

Contact us at griefcare@nvasia.com.my or 010-9896954 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm) for appointment or phone and email enquiry.

Author:

Nai Seow Hong, graduated from Taiwan University in Master of Thanatology and Health Counselling, major in death and life, volunteer in Academic of Silent Mentor as Pastoral Care, she is now works as a grief care officer.

 

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