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Moon cakes and fireworks in Singapore

Some cultures see a man in the moon, but in East Asia it’s more likely to be a rabbit. The effect is at its most convincing during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated wherever Chinese culture has made its mark. On the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar – late September or early October by the Western reckoning – the appearance of the full autumn moon is a time to give thanks for the harvest, and an excuse to bring out colourful lanterns and binge on mooncakes. These pie-like pastries, stamped with an ornamental design on top and filled with the likes of sweet red bean paste or perhaps less traditional fillings such as chocolate, are common enough that the event is often known as the Mooncake Festival instead. The city-state of Singapore is already in a celebratory mood after the 50th anniversary of its independence, and mid-autumn festivities focus on the central Chinatown district, with plenty of street markets and lantern-painting competitions. If you can find a gap between the old shophouses and the high-rise skyline, look up and ponder the legend of the moon goddess Chang’e, and also the white rabbit who appears on the moon’s face, stooped over a mortar where he mixes her elixir of immortality.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - October 2015
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