Mid-Autumn Festival: The Tales Behind It

flower crowd red color christmas festival mid autumn festival chinese new year

Image: pxhere

You may know by now that the annual Mid-Autumn Festival is just around the corner, whether it be because you have noticed the colourful lanterns emerging around Singapore, or because you have been recently inundated with invitations to mooncake parties. One of the most important festivals in Chinese culture, Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15thday of the eighth lunar month – which falls, this year, on 24th September.

A colourful affair centred around the moon, Mid-Autumn Festival is popular with adults and kids alike: revellers get to tote brightly lit lanterns and feast on deliciously sweet mooncakes. The Festival in Singapore has inevitably evolved over the years, with electrical lanterns shaped as popular cartoon characters rivalling the more traditional paper versions, and more and more places offering modern takes on mooncakes – think ice cream mooncakes and flavours like durian and coffee!

But how much do you really know about the origins behind these traditions? Our Origins of Chinese Festivals takes readers back to the very beginning, retelling two central myths in comic form: The Story of Chang-e and The Story of Mooncakes.

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Image: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi via Wikimedia Commons

Chang-e was a heavenly being who was banished to earth with her husband, the archer Hou Yi. Buoyed by the admiration and worship of the humans, Hou Yi grew greedy and obtained the elixir of life from the Queen Mother of the West, planning to share it with Chang-e so that they could both dominate the human realm forever. Horrified by his vanity and pride, Chang-e drank the elixir by herself and gained the ability to fly to heaven.

Now alone – Hou Yi was soon slain by his treacherous disciple Feng Meng – Chang-e then flew to the moon with her pet rabbit to wallow in sorrow. To this day, kids try to find the shapes of Chang-e and her rabbit during Mid-Autumn Festival, when the moon is traditionally thought to be the brightest.

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Image: Mk2010 via Wikimedia Commons

The second tale in Origins of Chinese Festivals is of how mooncakes came to be. The end of the Song Dynasty saw the Mongols ruling China, and stationing a soldier in each local household to control the people. In retaliation, the locals baked secret messages inciting rebellion inside round cakes, which were then passed around the households and cut open. The messages organised a collective uprising one night, and the locals successfully regained their freedom.

The eating of these cakes became a tradition during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and eventually evolved to become the mooncakes of today. The sweet pastries are round to symbolise completeness and reunion, and are eaten by families in the spirit of sweet harmony.

Today, Mid-Autumn Festival has moved far from its origins to become a modernised affair. Gardens by the Bay, for instance, is staging a fantastical lantern display this year, while a Festive Bazaar can be found in Chinatown and a Moonfest at the Esplanade. Nevertheless, as families and friends come together every year in celebration, we see the values of harmony and reunion captured by Origins of Chinese Festivals continue to underlie the festivities.

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A Gateway to Singapore

Singapore’s multicultural nature is one of our strongest points – we get to share knowledge, traditions and practices between a diverse range of people, making this a vibrant and dynamic place to live.

Our Culture Gateway series delves deeper into this, exploring the history and customs behind Singapore’s various communities. While individual books focus on a specific community, a good place to start is Gateway to Singapore Culture, which provides an overview of our country’s rich cultural tapestry.

The colourfully illustrated book devotes a section to each of the five main cultures in Singapore: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan. Find out more about yourself and your friends, from the origins and cuisine of each community, to their beliefs and famous individuals. There is so much history behind all of us who make up Singapore, and no better introduction to it than Gateway to Singapore Culture.

Living in a multicultural society is extremely rewarding, but we should also be aware of the ways that different people negotiate such an experience. At the root of racial concord is a deep appreciation and understanding of our different communities, and it is thus important that the book touches upon its subject. It is, ultimately, a celebration of friendship, peace and harmony.

To learn more about other cultures is to engage with them, and Gateway to Singapore Culture does so in a fun and accessible way. Simply pick up a copy of it to find out about the rich history that underlies Singapore today, and deepen your understanding of what it means to be a diverse community!

Six Tips for Submissions

Photo via <a href=”https://www.goodfreephotos.com/”>Good Free Photos</a>

Submitting a book proposal or manuscript can seem daunting – we know how scary or confusing the process can be, but there’s really nothing to worry about! At Asiapac, we publish comics, fiction and non-fiction books on a wide range of subjects, and are always looking for new works and talent to bring to the public. To help you better understand the submission process and what we look out for, here are several tips on how to submit a proposal to a publisher:

Be original – Publishers are always looking for ideas that are unique and exciting, and there is nothing that will make your proposal stand out more than a completely fresh angle. While we all take inspiration from the world around us, try to think of original and unique ways to express your ideas.

It’s in the details – A proposal may only be a sample of your entire work, but it is important to still include a certain amount of detail. Taking the time to flesh out story ideas and characters is something publishers appreciate, and will also give a better idea of the proposal’s potential. A well-written proposal is one thing, but demonstrating the heart of a story is another!

Look out for submission calls – We often call for manuscripts in certain categories on the Asiapac website’s Submissions page. This might be a good place to start if you are looking for a prompt, or if you want to know how well your own work might fit into our style.

Follow submission guidelines – This may seem obvious, but always check what a publisher requires be included in a proposal or manuscript submission! Requirements like excerpt and synopsis lengths may vary across publishers, and you don’t want your submission to be rejected because of such an oversight.

Consider non-profit or government funding – We often recommend that Singaporean writers and artists have a look at funding schemes available from the National Arts Council (NAC) and other non-profit or government-linked organisations. NAC offers several grants for individuals and organisations developing artistic works, and can be a useful source of help when kick-starting a project.

Patience is a virtue – Last, but definitely not least, is the importance of patience and persistence. Submitting a proposal or manuscript is often a waiting game, but you should never feel disheartened. Publishers can take a while to respond to submissions and have to reject many good manuscripts due to budget and time constraints. Even if you encounter rejection, you should never give up your ambitions. Be confident in your work, and never stop trying out new ideas!

Reintroducing the Classics

We here at Asiapac are always trying to bring the classics to new audiences. While Journey to the WestRomance of the Three Kingdoms and Hua Mulan might already be familiar to many, our graphic novel versions will bring these tales to life in a whole new way. No one knows the power of comics more than us, and the visual element is put into full effect in these books’ retelling of history.

Our latest release Journey to the West is a re-coloured and edited version of our bestselling book by Chang Boon Kiat, so you will be able to enjoy an even more vivid telling of the epic tale. The monk Xuanzang embarks on a quest for the Buddhist sutras, alongside his disciples Sun Wukong, Sandy and Pigsy. The tale is rendered in stunning illustrations and dialogue, which perfectly capture the ambitious and lively spirit of the story itself.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a historical novel by Ming Dynasty writer Luo Guanzhong, and is based on the power struggle between the states of Wei, Shu and Wu after the decline of the Han dynasty. Together, the ten-volumes in the series unfold the exciting but turbulent period of Chinese history, with each volume dedicated to a specific battle or event.

Seasoned artist Li Chengli and writer Luo Guanzhong are at their most brilliant in this collaborative effort, with vivid dialogue perfectly complementing the action-filled illustrations. Characters will seem even more alive, and the conflict even more intense – you’re bound to find yourself swept along on this visual, historical adventure!

A classic tale is similarly reinvigorated in Hua Mulan: Legendary Woman Warrior. The story of the female warrior who disguised herself as a man to fight for family and country has long become familiar to us – we’re looking at you, Disney – but you’ll still find new thrills and sides to it in this graphic novel. Creators Xu Deyuan and Jiang Wei have reimagined Mulan’s story in their painstakingly written and illustrated book, so follow Mulan from her victories and feats in the army, to her eventual identity reveal at the end of the war.

We believe that the richness of Chinese classics deserves to be told again and again, and to be appreciated by every new generation that comes along. So regardless of whether you have never heard these stories before or if you are already well-versed in them, our graphic interpretations of Chinese classics should be next on your reading list!

Our Origins series

Our Origins series has long delighted and educated readers with its fun approach to Chinese history. Comprised of 16 titles in English and Mandarin, the series uses gorgeous illustrations and light-hearted comics to illuminate Chinese traditions, arts and sciences.

Origins of Chinese Festivals guides readers through some of the highlights of 5,000 years of Chinese history. Learn about how familiar festivals like Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival actually originated, and of the colourful myths and stories that lie behind their origins. Be captivated by age-old tales, like The Cowherd and the Weaving Girl, and The Story of Chang-e, which have been given new life in comic form.

You may know that the Chinese have long played an important role in the scientific and technological world, but did you know that the Chinese began making paper nearly two thousand years ago? Or that the first seismograph was invented in China in the second century?  What about how no nails are needed in Chinese architecture?

Origins of Chinese Science and Technology is another title in the series that explores the history behind some of today’s most familiar objects, and of the stunning span and breadth of Chinese history. If you were surprised by these questions, you’ll find much more in the book that will intrigue and excite.

 

These are just two examples of our iconic Origins series, with other topics ranging from Opera and Literature, to Sports and Music. Whilst ambitious and vastly informative, the books always seek to educate in a fun and accessible way – Chinese history and culture will never have felt more easy to understand and appreciate.

Pick up a title the next chance you get, and with your newfound knowledge, you’ll learn to see that delicious mooncake or dumpling as more than just a tasty snack!

Editor’s Note: September 2018

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It’s the first time ever we’re publishing an Editor’s Note! Through this monthly update, we hope that you’ll get a better glimpse into what we do here at Asiapac, and in turn we hope to get to know you a bit more too!

Anyway, it’s been a busy past week for us.

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2018 was held from Thursday to Saturday, and we’re extremely grateful for the overwhelming support we received. Amidst the vibrant book fair that took place at NLB Plaza and the jaw-dropping list of exciting programmes for festival goers, we launched the first two books of our latest children’s book series, Candy and Friends. Authors Bessie Chua and Linda Yan, and illustrator Patrick Yee went on stage to share all about the new lift-the-flap books to family, friends and fans – we definitely felt the love from the large crowd!

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If you were at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention 2018 during the weekend, we probably crossed paths. Just sitting at our booth, we were amazed by the goings-on around us, especially the energy at the convention – nothing short of electrifying! There were cosplayers, gaming battles and even Japanese electronic dance music performances, complete with flashing coloured lights.

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Most of all, we were extremely touched by the sincere fans who specially made their way down to our booth on Saturday to get their books signed by Evangeline (Evacomics), Zaki and Danny (Lieutenant Adnan and the Last Regiment). We’re also very happy to have had the opportunity to introduce our books to new readers. We really hope you guys had a blast too.

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Being Asiapac’s 35th anniversary this year, we’ve decided to hold a month-long event at the end of the year to celebrate our past achievements and future projects. This means that, even though two book fairs have just passed, the work doesn’t stop. In fact, in the upcoming weeks, we’re going to be working even harder in preparation for this event – we want to make sure we bring only the best experience to all our loyal fans. Get excited for never-before-seen artwork, old publications and more. Keep your eyes peeled for more details that we’ll be releasing soon!

Lastly, don’t forget to vote in our very first comic book poll! Basically, you as a reader get to choose our next project. We’ve teamed up with comic artist Zaki Ragman to bring you two ashcan comics to choose from. Click on either image below to read.

Ocean Heart   Badang

Once you’re done, head over to https://goo.gl/forms/jk8sem8M6WdkJwoU2 to select a winner! The poll closes 31 December 2018, so you’ll have lots of time to weigh your options.

Your Horoscope for the Year of the Dog

We’re pleased to share with you the 2018 Chinese Horoscope from Asiapac Books!

Curious to find out what’s in store for you this coming year? Click on your zodiac sign below for some critical insights into your health, career and relationships for the coming Lunar New year.

Not sure what’s your zodiac sign? Here’s a helpful list below:

Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

And if you’d like to find out more – check out our bestselling Chinese Horoscope comic book!

 

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A Peek Behind The Scenes!

Labour Pains

Asiapac Books is celebrating our 35th Anniversary this November! To commemorate this event, we are giving our readers some “behind the scenes” snapshots from our office. Keep a lookout for new posts as we share the many treasures we have tucked away!

Here is the very first book we published in 1984 titled Labour Pains.

Labour Pains is a book that looks at the inequality of power between the sexes. It was illustrated during the late ’70s and the artwork found in this book are good examples of illustration trends in the ’70s and ’80s.