When we were little kids, my siblings and I always looked forward to the Mid-Autumn Festival. On that night, we could carry lanterns and play with our neighbours in the labyrinth of dark dingy back-alleys of Chinatown. In groups, our candle lit lanterns would float about in the darkness like giant fireflies. The boys usually carried lanterns with Ultraman, Batman, Superman and aeroplane designs, while the girls carried lanterns of rabbits, birds, fish and flowers. They were made the traditional way, using bended wires wrapped in colourful cellophane papers. Carrying our lanterns, we played games such as attempting to put out one another’s candle flames, making ghostly faces with the flames shining from our jaws, and even catching cockroaches from the drains!
Fast forward to the early 2000, it was our kids’ turn to carry lanterns. However, the lanterns they carried were no longer made the traditional way. Instead they carried mostly transparent “rubber floats” or translucent plastic toys lit by battery operated bulbs which also twinkle and emit kiddy music. Cartoon characters dominated the designs, such as Doraemon, Hello Kitty, Winnie the Pooh, Powerpuff girls and dinosaurs etc. Instead of the dingy alleys, our kids played in the void deck, playground, garden or the estate amphitheatre – safe, clean and bright.
Since young, I had made quite a number of lanterns. One of the earliest lantern I made was when I was in primary four in 1979. It was a huge red ball-like lantern made using wire and cellophane and painted with the words “Happy Teachers’ Day” on it. Teachers’ Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival both coincidentally fell on September of that year. The lantern was proudly hung on the ceiling of the classroom to celebrate both occasions.
There were various other smaller lanterns I made but I could only vaguely remember them as there were no photographs taken to memorialise them. For those fortunate few captured in photographs, I dug out their photos in a hike of nostalgia and festive mood and created this blog post as a memento. Take a walk down memory lane with YC, the “Lantern Maker”.