Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lantern Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t just about mooncakes of dubious flavors. There are glowing lanterns galore. We were fortunate enough to see the festive lantern displays in two major world cities this year.

In Beijing, we wandered through Ditan Park, which had large lanterns representing Olympic cities, obviously in preparation for the 2008 games. From Moscow to Paris, Athens to Sydney, and of course Beijing, the lanterns were quite a sight. And in the cooler, crisper air of Beijing, it finally felt like “Mid-Autumn.”

Singapore hosted its own lantern extravaganza. With sticky humidity and temperatures in the 80s, the weather wasn’t exactly Fall-like, but the thousands of lanterns made up for it. The theme was all things water related (apparently this year’s national theme).

There were some surprising twists, though: the lanterns depicted everything from Chinese myths to penguins, pelicans, and even the Loch Ness monster.

But our favorites, in both Beijing and Singapore, were the simpler, more traditional lanterns hung in the trees. Perhaps it's more because of what we’re longing for around this time of year. Red spheres or red and gold pagodas glowing in the night, they perfectly echo the deep reds and golds of the changing leaves we didn’t get to see during this Mid-Autumn season.

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