To a westerner the term sweater weather is not applicable in Singapore (unless you’re stepping into a movie theater, where it’s like entering a walk-in freezer). When the annual Mid-Autumn Festival rolls around. I get a little temperature, attire, and time frame disoriented.
As someone who grew up on the East Coast in the U.S. for many years. Experiencing the turnover of four seasons is truly an all senses phenomenon. It’s natural that I link certain smells, taste, touch, and sights to particular times of the year. So, when autumn comes about, the first signal is usually daylight savings. It’s a passage of time where we begrudgingly shift back our clocks an hour. Forcing sunsets to begin at (such an odd hour of) 4:30pm, putting us in the dark by 4:45pm – giving us very Monday morning gloomy type vibes.
Yet, autumn does ease into an end-of-the-week type energy.
By gearing up for crisper and cooler weather, we rotate out our summer outfits with cozy sweaters, light jackets, and wool socks. Today, the idea of wearing heavier threads is so far absent from my mind and closet. Even leather has been reduced down to handbags, belts, and shoes only (I do miss wearing my leather pants and skirt).
Eventually we lean into the autumn season. And retailers, restaurants and homes also get a full on Fall update.
Gourds become center stage as the main accessory of décor and food dishes. And who would have guessed that word-art in home goods stores would be so popular – especially with a huge emphasis on the word, gather being written on anything that hangs on a wall. Interesting enough, the Fall has two faces. It shifts from Halloween to Thanksgiving, allowing the season to quickly transition from ghouls and ghosts, to meal planning and a frenzied cooking bonanza. All the meanwhile, restaurants are updating their menus and grocery stores have pumpkin (everything), squash, and apples in full abundance.
While all these updates are happening, it’s a big build up for the main event. Mother Nature puts on a spectacular array of Fall foliage colors. Cementing autumn being the favorite season for many.
Record scratch …….. but back to Singapore and Mid-Autumn Festival. Since temperatures in this tropical region are on a constant loop and never changes from a sweaty 80F+ (26C+) degrees, the humidity is higher than hades, foliage is palm and coconut trees, and I always need to be sure I’m swimsuit ready no matter if it’s September, October, November, and so on. It has me wondering, what is Mid Autumn Festival without a change of temperature, color and sans Thanksgiving?
What is Mid Autumn Festival?
The Mid Autumn Festival is a Chinese tradition (second observed holiday to Chinese New Year) that’s celebrated in many East and South Eastern Asian countries. The history dates back 3,000 years ago, when the Emperors of China worshipped the moon and celebrated the harvest.
Its’ start date is the 15th day of the 8th moon of the Chinese Lunar calendar. Which means mid- September to early October on a Gregorian calendar.
In Chinese culture a full moon represents the best time of the month. That’s why the Mid Autumn Festival is sometimes referred as the Moon Festival. In Eastern cultures the shape of a circle is very popular and represents togetherness. Therefore, families unite and gather to feast and express their gratitude (all the feels of a Thanksgiving).
The local senses of Mid Autumn
We can’t talk about Mid Autumn Festival without mentioning the star of the holiday, the mooncakes. It’s the ”pumpkin” of the season and these ‘lil cakes are everywhere. They’re heavily advertised on socials, restaurants, grocery stores, and there are classes on how to make mooncakes. Hence, another nickname for Mid Autumn is the Mooncake Festival.
And the variety of mooncakes is vast. While there are traditional mooncakes (lotus paste, and salted egg), the more elaborate ones have decadent ingredients such as truffles, smoked duck, or the local flare of durian, mandarins and mochi.
Along side the detailed patterns, these little treats can come in ornate boxes. And some of these boxes look like they are Barbie size dressers, that are well crafted decorated with beautiful patterns and designs. Each draw has a mooncake that’s just as exotic with flavor as its packaging.
Chinatown is always a sight to experience. The area celebrates many local holidays with beautiful displays of lanterns and light up features that fill the streets. In pre-covid times, there would be gatherings for lantern and dragon dances. But now a days, celebrations are done more digitally.
Change of season with a change of outlook
Time is constantly in motion and seasons are forever changing. Although my surrounding may have a different vibe and the setting is contrasting to what I grew up with. It doesn’t change the fact that autumn is still centered around togetherness. And that is something that I can wrap my head around.