Mooncake Festival

Once again the Mooncake (Mid Autumn, 中秋) or Lantern Festival is coming again. And it’s time to eat my favourite 月餅 (mooncake) but not too much due to my high cholesterol…

Of course, the Mid Autumn festival or whatever name you called it, is on the 15th of August under the Lunar month. Just like the past few years, the mooncakes are already for sale even before the start of Chinese 7th Month! Can’t blame them, selling mooncakes is getting more and more competitive.

When I was just about 4 or 5 years old, I remember it was a time of reunion of family members. All would gather together in the evening and had our dinner. After dinner, the children will gather together in the open field or playground or backyard to play with their simple lanterns. The adults will prayed with their offerings and after that, we will feast on the mooncakes or other food.

The above is me holding a simple lantern in Sep 1966, about 41 years ago. Life was simple but happy then.

Later when we shifted to Haig Road in the 70s, the Mid Autumn festival was celebrated with just a simple meal without the lanterns. Probably my brother and I thought we were in our teens and shouldn’t be playing the lanterns. Lantern or no lantern, here are some food that are related to the Mid Autumn festival;

1. Traditional Piglets in basket;

Photo credit : Henley46

These plain little piglets were my favourites when I was a kid. They were usually given free when you purchased mooncakes from the stall. Now you need to buy or pay for them…and there are different designs and of course more expensive.

2. Water caltrops ( 菱角);

These are actually a type of water chestnut. The look of these water caltrops may not attract the youngsters nowadays, and eating them also not easy.

Photo Credit : Exif

See the inside of this water caltrop;

Photo Credit : FoggyChan

3. Mini Yam;

Photo Credit : Neowy

Not really my favourite but taking a few bites is ok. Definitely not the whole piece for me…

4. Pomelo;

This is definitely a Multi-Use Pomelo. After eating the juicy fruit, the adults will usually dry the skin. The innovative one will used the skin to make into lanterns. Of course some preferred to wear the pomelo skin as a hat over their heads.

5. Mooncakes;

Finally my favourites…mooncakes. I still preferred the traditional types lotus seed with 2 salted eggs in it.

Some of the traditional shop names related to mooncakes are Tai Thong 大 同, Da Zhong Guo 大中囯 or Da Tong 大東, etc… Remember those traditional paperbags used to contain the boxes of mooncakes;

Photo credit : Kybrdgal

The boxes used to contain the mooncakes then were very similar in design and not so beautiful compared to now.

I remember in the 80s when I was still a regular in the Airforce, I did part-time marketing in mooncake (of course not allowed officially, but the enterprising me…). I checked the Yellow Pages for big corporations and I sent faxes to their personnel department to market Tai Thong (大 同) mooncakes. I went to Tai Thong at Gay World then (now at Mosque Street) and asked them for better discounts when I placed order from them. I even managed to get orders from staffs of Singapore Mint!

They are still using the traditional receipts;


16 Responses to “Mooncake Festival”

  1. 1 Lam Chun See Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I seem to recall (vaguesly, I am afraind) an event associated with Moon Cake Festival – The eclipse of the moon. In Cantonese we say kam lar sik yut. We are supposed to beat drums and bang pots etc. to make a lot of noise to frighten away the monster from eating up the moon. Any info about this?

  2. 2 laokokok Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Do you mean Heavenly Dog was trying to eat up the moon? Yes, I remember such a legend but don’t recall if the eclipse of moon happen during the mid autumn festival in S’pore so far.

  3. 3 py Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    An enterprising spirit that I would probably have to learn from. 🙂

  4. 4 py Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    It seems that Da Tong is a popular place to get mooncakes?

  5. 5 laokokok Friday, September 21, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Thanks PY. But that was in the 80s, now in the internet age, things change again haha. Da Tong and a few others are the popular choice in the past as then, those hotels and other bread shop still have yet to compete in the mooncake market.

  6. 6 amy Monday, September 24, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    some preferred to wear the pomelo skin as a hat over their heads

    hope this pic amuses you and Otterman:

  7. 8 pristan Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 12:23 am

    i have never seen the Water caltrops. 😦 where do i find those?

  8. 9 victor koo Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 1:14 am

    Nice post on the Mooncake Festival that covers all the traditional favourites. Read mine here.

  9. 10 laokokok Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Thanks Amy – that’s interesting!

    Hi Pristan,
    You can find these Water caltrops in most supermarket or market.

    Thanks Victor for the link.

  10. 11 profkingsfield2004 Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    i never like the mooncakes in the cage type. Reiminds me of what my mother used to say about putting unfaithful women into cages and drowning them in a well.

  11. 12 eunice Monday, September 15, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Nice description of Mooncake festival! I still like the little piglets in basket, but didn’t have one this year though, seems like they are getting less popular now with the fierce competition among the mooncake sellers.

    Seems like Da Zhong Guo 大中囯 is still popular, though my aunties have been saying it’s less popular now, the standard is not as good as in the past before the family business split.

    OMG! Now I remembered I have a lot of mooncakes in my fridge! :S

  12. 13 laokokok Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Thanks Eunice. I saw the Da Zhong Guo stall at the Century Square during the Moon cake promotion last week but as they do not have any sample tasting – so did not buy any. Oh they are still using those traditional paper bag.

  13. 14 Nikki Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    You were a cute kid playing with your lantern.

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