Reflections on the Mid-Autumn Festival

Written by Jaspar Chan | Photo by author

The Mid-Autumn festival has always been my favourite traditional Chinese holiday. Under the bright moonlight on a warm summer’s night, the city’s parks are filled with revellers celebrating the occasion, the dark of the undergrowth speckled with the light from lanterns and candles. All over Hong Kong, nestled in the city’s nooks and crannies – rooftops and balconies, the peaks of the diminutive inner-city hills, secluded stretches of waterfront – Hong Kong’s denizens come together for a night of merrymaking, with camaraderie and conviviality in the air; each and every stranger a friend, the atomisation of society temporarily overcome.

The darting silhouettes of children against a backdrop of lanterns, indistinct faces illuminated by the flicker of candles, the off-tone caterwauling of cheap electronic lanterns – the spirit of the festival and the joie de vivre of the revellers is contagious. Spurning the government’s bulletins on the dangers of wax boiling, children throw water over melting candle-wax in mooncake tins, then leap back from the blossoming column of steam and fire rising majestically into the night sky. In high spirits, Hongkongers once again take to the streets in a city known for its vibrant protest culture – but tonight, lanterns substitute for placards, and the police inspectors are met instead with warmness and amiability.

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