Monday, September 25, 2006

Raise the Red Lantern

Rigid traditionalists around the world love to mope and moan over the gradual erosion of cultural traditions and ancient festivals under the relentless tsunami waves of globalization. Takes a lot to withstand the brainwashing powers of MTV and McDonald's after all - and obscure traditional practices are being slowly swept away by the more prevalent media-friendly Western culture.

Surprisingly there is one cultural festival over here that actually seems to be getting larger and more prominent with time. Not sure exactly what's been driving this peculiar phenomenon but I suspect it's a diabetic conspiracy hatched by the nefarious sugar manufacturers.

Years back, I could just recall a handful of red lanterns and several half-eaten mooncakes commemorating the occasion - but nowadays everyone seems to be getting on the loony mooncake bandwagon when the autumn equinox approaches. Lanterns and mooncakes flood the streets as prominent restaurants and confectionaries go all out during the ( no doubt lucrative ) Mooncake Festival, touting their various delicacies in the most creative manner.

Little lanterns everywhere!

Oddly enough while almost everyone celebrates the spirit of the season, no one's really all that sure of the actual date of the event. There's a vague sense of the festival approaching with the ubiquitous mooncakes making their presence felt but by then, everyone's already too busy rhyming verses by moonlit rivers to care about the actual date. No doubt the combination of the free-flowing wine and the sugar-rich mooncakes helps in the creative writing process.

Of course not all of us are aspiring poets who pen sentimental stanzas after the inevitable alcohol / sugar rush and there are some who invariably insist on putting their own unconventional spin on the festivities.

Paul : What are you gonna be doing this Mooncake festival?
ISO : Clubbing.
Paul : What? What does that have to do with the festival?
ISO : Everything. Trust me. I'll be busy sampling savoury mooncakes and tasting their sweet, delicious filling.
Paul : Seriously. How can you make everything sound filthy and degrading?
ISO : It's a talent we both share.

Unfortunately I can't argue with that.

Still, not everyone's busy gorging themselves on the local fare this auspicious season. Doing his sedate bit to garner business for his ample products, Big Bicep Barry's usually busy mooncake shopping this time of the year.

Paul : Busy distributing mooncakes again?
Barry : Yeah. Gotta placate the loyal clients.
Paul : Sweeten their lips? Do I get some sugar?
Barry : If you are a good boy.
Paul : So are you giving any sugar to Bad-Ass Brenda?
Barry : You've gotta be kidding. Brenda is not getting any mooncake of mine!
Paul : Glad you don't hand your mooncakes around indiscriminately then.
Barry : Are we still talking about the same thing?

Not sure what I'm gonna be doing on that day but the alcohol bit is starting to
sound good. Wonder what Charming Calvin is up to on that night.


hrugaar said...

We already had our autumn equinox here. When's yours, and why is it different?

Still haven't tried mooncakes, darn. Maybe there'll be some around when next I visit. :oP

Roxanne said...

Alcohol and sugary goodness..... why was I not informed of this holiday????


damn! i'm stuck in the outskirts so i miss my mooncake festival again! only if there's a mooncake vendor or two at my hostel. that's why you get when staying in almost-all-malay area.

QuaVadis said...

Raise the Red Lentern? At first it was a posting of a different kind :P Mooncake festival with alcohol? HMMMMM...I tot it was tea that was served..guess we can called it fermented tea? No? hehehe

charm.calvin said...

The moon rising high,
Mooncakes in plain sight,
I let out a sigh,
Cause my belly's too tight.

Trying to be poetic. It's a Friday night, unless you're busy, or else I'm all free. Heh.

Elliot T. McBeal said...

Thanks for this post, you inspired me to write a post about a memory I treasured about my childhood.

Shigeki said...

Wow, I haven't had mooncakes for years. I mean I have to get myself some. Yeah, I am talking about non-filthy kind if you happen to wonder. :-)

Annie said...

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Did Harvey bake mooncakes?
Because they kind of looked like boobs.

Poem by Annie, copyrighted, patented and protected by a wooden bat.

Anonymous said...

So coincidence I just watch "raise the red lantern"...

William said...

The adverts start even before the hungry ghost festival ends... talk about rushing.

Gone are the days of simple flavours. Blueberry, Cheesecake, Wolfberry, Mochi, Ginger, Tiramisu, Dragon Fruit, Black Sesame.... I remember the days when Durian and Green Tea were considered exotic.

Gone are the days of merayau-ing in the neighbourhood with lanterns. Wait, can still do that in RT patrols.

envy said...

Yup if u havent seen the movie" raise the red lanterns" u should...


k said...

it's quite true actually. n it's also a pity. i wish i could once more celebrate moocake festival. maybe it's not just the passing of years. maybe it also has something to do with the passing of age.

nyonyapenang said...

it's not only about mooncakes and lanterns. taoist families normally put out a table laden with offerings to the moon goddess. and one item on the table would be the face powder, to be used later by young girls. ;)

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Dave said...

Oh those lovely little i love them!!

Since young, i've been in craze with those cute little mooncakes, as i find them looks like a piece of traditional art that should be preserved by pouring hot wax over. (can't bear to eat them. :P)

now, since i have a stable income, i will buy those that i want to eat. Just eat, drink and be merry in this lovely season with Sister Luna. =)