In praise of gratitude
For millennia, philosophies and religions have been singing the praises of gratitude. During Roman times, the influential civic commentator Cicero pronounced that “gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others”.
Embedded in major faiths of the world — Judaism, Christian, Islam, Buddhism and Hindu — the virtue is also part of modern secular teachings whereby schoolchildren are encouraged to keep gratitude journals. What went well today? What am I grateful for?
While we may think of such expressions as solitary and reflective moments, many traditions bring together family, friends and neighbours for annual collective displays of gratitude, often via joyous, loud and colourful festivals, whether to thank a deity for a path, for the cycle of nature that provides food, and thus life, or to simply count blessings.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, a centuries-old tradition, is a united celebration for more than 1 billion people across Asia, as well as the diaspora of Chinese communities elsewhere. Also known as the Moon Festival, it falls on September 15 this year and variations appear in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and also The Philippines, which thanks the moon’s influence on the harvest and its representation as a symbol for family unity. Party scenes involve vivid lanterns of all shapes and sizes, moon-gazing, dragon and lion dances, incense burning, elaborate food displays, and the gorging of mooncakes, also exchanged as gifts. Visitors can head to, say, a city park to join locals in moon worship.