In praise of grat­i­tude

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - ROB DUN­LOP

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.

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