Moon festival thrives on sweet tradition

Moon Cakes

Moon Cakes

Moon Cakes

Moon Cakes

WHAT do a refugee camp and the Moon Festival have in common?

Nothing really, well, that's unless you've spent this holiday with my family.

As a kid, my cousins and extended relatives all eagerly awaited the annual moon lantern competition held at my grandmother's place.

I made an exquisite butterfly one year. I thought I was a shoe in for the prize. Beautifully crafted cellophane. A well-proportioned creature. Instead, my cousin Arthur's creation, which suffered a blow by the hands of God, snatched first prize. The winning lantern was affectionately dubbed the "refugee camp" because it resembled one.

It somehow got squashed in the mayhem and frenzy of 10 kids sprinting to the finishing line, wishfully seeking victory.

As time has moved on, we've become unwilling adults.

But the same powers will still continue to make our annual Moon Festival a memorable one.

This year, all the older aunties congregated to make moon cakes from scratch.

Legend has it, the Moon Festival started because a woman by the name of Chang'e who accidentally took the pill of immortality and flew to the moon for sanctuary.

When you look up to the skies at night, it is said you can see a womanly figure beaming down from the star.

Moon cake is generally eaten during mid-autumn festivals.

The rich thick filling is made from red bean or lotus seed. It takes hours for the mixture to settle.

For the outside pastry, it consists of sugar, oil, flour and water.

Chinese characters such as longevity or harmony are stamped on the pastry.

This traditional dessert is served in small wedges usually accompanied by Chinese tea and is offered between friends or family on gatherings.

A contemporary take on this sweet is to have pineapple, durian, yoghurt or jelly on the inside.

My aunties all chat among themselves and reminisce about the time when they were taught this recipe in Vietnam at a small bakery store.

Those days are long gone, but with the help of food, it's a link to the past and celebration of a culture.

Do you have a traditional dish? Or does your meal carry special meaning? Write to

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