It’s said that in the past, families would light lanterns around their houses, and hold ceremonies to make offerings such as mooncakes and pomelos to the moon.

Traditionally, a full moon symbolises completeness and is associated with family reunion. Other than gathering with the family for “moon appreciation” (shangyue), lantern-carrying, and mooncake eating, watching performances such as Chinese opera, cross-talk and puppetry are also popular activities.

Osmanthus flowers also usually bloom during the festival period, and are much-admired as symbols of purity and innocence.



in singapore!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated extensively in Singapore. Mooncakes are a major highlight with brands rolling out eye-catching flavours, often inspired by local delights. They’re bought not only for eating, but also as gifts for relatives and friends. Some families even offer mooncakes when praying to their ancestors. Community centres or residents’ committees will also organise parties, which often include lantern-making competitions or mooncake-making classes.

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how we commemorate
mid-autumn festival

1. carrying

carrying lanterns

1. carrying

Carrying lanterns was originally a form of spiritual offering performed during moon gazing. In the past, people prayed to the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival. As these ceremonies were often held at night, lanterns were used to provide light.

Did you know? 

Did you know that lanterns were traditionally carried during Yuanxiao and not during the Mid-Autumn Festival? This was likely the case in Singapore until around the 1950s. The earliest record of carrying lanterns during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore is in 1949! According to this article, thousands of children carried colourful paper lanterns during the festival in Chinatown. The paper lanterns were pleated and collapsible, enabling them to be folded flat when not in use. They were either shaped like a globe or a cylinder, with a stand in the middle for a lighted candle within. 

Long, long ago, lanterns were used for decorative purposes and to provide light, typically hung in front of the door of the house. Local paper goods’ manufacturers, who often made paper houses to burn for the dead, then started becoming creative and created paper lanterns for festivals like the Mid-Autumn Festival. In the early days of Singapore, lanterns came in various shapes and forms, from globular lanterns with revolving figures silhouetted against patterned sides, to animal-shaped like fish, fowl and dragonflies, to yard-square lanterns with drawings. Some children also made their own, hence coming in even more shapes and forms. 

Decades ago, many Singaporeans lived in kampongs and there were more opportunities for communal celebrations. Likely because of various reasons such as the modernisation of society, the festive spirit began fading and practices like carrying lanterns started losing its popularity. 


in singapore!

Today, lanterns of all shapes, sizes and materials can be found, even featuring popular game or movie characters. Here are four different kinds of commonly-seen lanterns that have lit up the decades of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in Singapore.

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2. lantern

lantern riddles

2. lantern

There has been a long-standing tradition of solving lantern riddles. Lantern riddles are a highly interactive word-guessing game, said to have originated from ancient China’s coded language and folk riddles. During the Song dynasty, people started writing riddles on lanterns for others to guess. The act of guessing is also known as “shooting the tiger” because the answer is often elusive, like a hidden tiger in the grass! In the olden days, people would only play lantern riddles during the Lantern Festival (15th day of Chinese New Year), but the custom eventually extended to the Mid-Autumn Festival.


in singapore!

As part of the efforts to instil a love for Chinese language and culture, institutions have come together to organise the 2nd National Chinese Riddle Competition in 2023. More than 250 students from 37 secondary schools participated in the competition to solve traditional lantern riddles.

Info source:

Think you have a knack for solving lantern riddles? Try out some of these Riddles below!

  1. 谜面:一物生来身穿三百多件衣,每天脱一件,年底剩张皮。(一日常用品)
  2. 谜面:聊斋志异(打成语一)
  3. 谜面:热爱大自然(打成语一)
  4. 谜面:玩得太过火(打一艺术类别)
  5. 谜面:浅中(打一中国歌手)
  6. 谜面:心大一点(打一字)
  7. 谜面:昨日不见有人来(打一字)
  8. 谜面:春天人告别(打一字)
  9. 谜面:杯杯不落空(打一字)

riddle answers here


3. moon gazing

moon gazing

3. moon gazing

The moon is the star of the festival! The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. The moon is believed to be the brightest on this day. The roundness of the moon also represents reunion.

In the past, families used to worship the moon and make offerings to Chang’e, whom they believed was the Moon Goddess. However, this practice is slowly disappearing and it’s more common nowadays to simply appreciate the beauty of the full moon.


in singapore!

Outdoor Mid-Autumn Festival events are held across the island featuring “moon appreciation” (shangyue) while enjoying lantern displays or mooncakes — from Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark Observation Deck to Jurong Lake Gardens.

4. Tea drinking

tea drinking

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, it seems like mooncakes and tea always come hand in hand! Enjoying a delicious mooncake is usually followed by washing it down with Chinese tea to combat the sweetness. In Singapore, tea is a popular beverage, even when it’s not during the festival! Let’s take a look at how tea gained its popularity over time among Singaporeans.

Chinese tea arrived on Singapore’s shores along with the Chinese immigrants, who brought along teas from their home regions. In the past, merchants set up shops and sold these tea leaves. One example is traditional tea shop Pek Sin Choon, supplying Nanyang tea since 1925.

Tea soon became a staple in Singaporean cuisine, especially as beverages sold in hawker centres and kopitiams, and served alongside dishes like bak kut teh. Singapore’s globalisation also led to new forms of tea entering the market like bubble tea in 1992. Singaporeans now spend US$342 million annually on bubble tea!

Despite Singapore’s growing and evolving tea scene, traditional Chinese tea is still commonly served with mooncakes.

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