Hornbill Unleashed

September 17, 2011

Reflecting on the Mooncake Festival

Filed under: Education,History — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Sim Kwang Yang

ANOTHER Mooncake Festival has come and gone. Known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Lunar Calendar. Although it is one of the largest festivals for the Chinese community, its importance in Malaysia has somewhat waned in recent decades.

The Mooncake Festival has been celebrated in China for thousands of years. Like many festivals, it has its roots among the many myths according to Chinese beliefs.

Growing up in Malaysia, I heard many such myths from an early age. According to one such myth, the Mid-Autumn festival began when the Han Chinese in China rose up in revolt against their Mongolian conquerors during the Wuen’s Dynasty. Rule in China was reverted back to the Han Chinese people under the Ming Dynasty.

The hope for self-rule by the Han Chinese was short-lived, however. Soon after the Min Dynasty, the Manchu from the grasslands of north-eastern China invaded the mainland and established the Manchurian Ching Dynasty, which went on through mainland China for over 300 years.

The dream of the Han Chinese for self-rule was frustrated for over 300 years, until the establishment of the modern Republic of China under the leadership of Dr Sun Yat Sen.

Dr Sun died early and in the early part of the 20th century, China sank into vicious civil war between the powerful warlords and Chinese Nationalist Party, who were pitted in a prolonged civil war with the Communist Party of China.

Then, the Japanese invasion of China started in 1937 and the Communists, together with the Nationalists, arrived at a truce to face their common aggressor — Japan.

The Japanese were driven out from China in 1945, and then the Communists and Nationalists continued their civil war. Eventually, the Communists won the war and the Modern Communist Republic of China was declared independent in 1950, while the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan to continue their lives in an independent country.

Today, the Republic of Communist China has evolved into the second strongest and richest country in the world, after the United States of America.

Meanwhile, the Chinese diaspora has grown many times and spread to all corners of the earth including Malaysia. Though China has remained as the spiritual home of the Han Chinese as is illustrated by the celebration of the Mooncake Festival, politically, the entity of the Republic of Communist China has remained irrelevant.

In Malaysia, the Chinese community swears allegiance to the Agong in a multiracial society. As the seeds of multiculturalism have been planted, all ethnic communities are able to celebrate their own festivities according to their traditions.

That is why Malaysian Chinese still celebrate the Mooncake Festival by eating their unique confectionery during this festive season. Many devotees will also go to the temple on the 15th day of the lunar month to give their offerings to deities and pray for happiness and harmony.

I have many fond memories of Mooncake Festivals past. I remember those long gone days when people in the neighbourhoods put up altars in their backyards and gave offerings to the moon to pray for blessings.

Although man has already landed on the moon, the myths surrounding the Mooncake Festival are still very much alive. They will never die off, just like the Chinese people.

Comments can reach the writer via columnists@theborneopost.com.



    Comment by Headhunters — September 19, 2011 @ 1:17 PM | Reply

  2. This is a good time to remember the past for without it there is no present and the future.
    I remember during my younger days, the children would all gather togehter to make merry of the occasion, and sing songs romancing the moon.

    We would also eat mooncakes and reminded each other the reason why we ate these delicacy. It was really a brilliant and strategic move to pass messages in the mooncake to spread the news and garner support for the revolution against the Mongolians.

    We were also not spared the fairy tale legend of a fairy and a rabbit living on the moon. It was fairy tale nontheless and we all took it in and it helped spice up the occasion.

    Carrying paper lanterns, groups of children would gather to form a lantern procession and visited each others home. In the ancient time, they also brought along the mooncakes as gifts to the homes that they visited.

    I am glad that this ancient festival can be celebrated iand is still being appreciated in Malaysia and the goodwill generated as spread to the other communities of our nation.

    Happy Mooncake festival. May the goodwill be further spread by this festival.

    Comment by Li Li Fa — September 17, 2011 @ 9:59 PM | Reply

  3. People used sweet cakes to spread messages to organise people to rebel against unjust rulers. They didn’t have fbook or twitter in those days. We should learn from their example and keep spreading the word about getting rid of the termite.

    Comment by Analist — September 17, 2011 @ 8:31 PM | Reply

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