We Shouldn’t Feel Obliged To Buy Mooncakes Just For The Sake Of Tradition
Even before the Mid-Autumn Festival on 10 Sep, mooncake sales have already begun.
But with this year being one of heightened struggles due to inflation and various global events, costs have been driven up — mooncakes being no exception.
Prices for various mooncake brands have risen by between 5.63% to 12.24% since last year.
At this point, you have to wonder why we are still scrambling to buy mooncakes every year. The common lotus paste fillings are plain at best while ‘special’ varieties like snow skin and durian aren’t typical treats we’d snack on at home.
Unless you’re getting them as a gift, there’s perhaps no other good reason to buy mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Mooncakes aren’t the tastiest festive treats
Some people may argue that mooncakes taste unique, which is a reason why they buy them.
But most of my experiences so far involve dry pastries, especially those containing egg yolks. They also don’t seem to hit the sweet spot the way other treats do.
This goes for both traditional and snow-skin mooncakes, the latter being more popular.
Sure, there’s always the option of trying others, maybe even pricier ones, but spending on those could mean scrimping back on other indulgences we may prefer to splurge more on.
If we compare mooncakes to other snacks typically eaten during festivals like love letters and pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year, the latter are more worthy investments — at around S$30 a jar, you’ll get more pieces which you can share with more people.
On the flip side, that same amount of money can barely get you one mooncake if you’re feeling like going for a fancy one.
Holding on to traditions for the sake of them doesn’t make sense
Of course, besides their taste, mooncakes also hold cultural significance.
Before they’re cut, they resemble a full moon, symbolic of the moon in the night sky during the Mid-Autumn Festival. They also symbolise reunions and happiness in Chinese culture.
Now, you may argue that we should hold on to traditions before they die out.
But we really wish to hold on to traditions like buying mooncakes when they’re fast becoming too pricey for the average Singaporean, even as a one-off?
There’s also the health aspect to consider. A traditional mooncake with an egg yolk contains around 900-1000 calories, and possibly more if you’re eating something less traditional. Talk about a diet ruiner.
Diabetics should definitely also avoid mooncakes since they contain around 120g to 180g of sugar. That’s 30-45 teaspoons.
There are alternatives to keep traditions going
For those who truly value tradition, there are various ways to continue honouring them. After all, many modern families have transited from whipping up complex feasts for Chinese New Year (CNY) reunion dinners to having them at restaurants or even ordering takeaway meals.
Conversely for the Mid-Autumn Festival, more hardworking folks may want to forego buying mooncakes from a reputed chain and try baking their own instead. You can even make a healthier version and treat the process as a bonding experience with family and friends.
Those without baking prowess or the luxury of time can consider mooncake-shaped ice cream, tsukimi-dango – that you’ll recognise for their cute rabbit-like designs – or other round goodies like tarts as alternatives for moon-viewing.
With so many ways to adapt age-old practices, there’s really no obligation to follow traditions, especially if they place a significant strain on your finances.
Go forth if you really want to have mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival
With all that said, there’s nothing stopping you from chowing down on a mooncake if one’s in front of you. After all, it doesn’t hurt to eat something decadent once a year if you enjoy the treat.
But for myself, who’s never really fancied the taste, I’m definitely not chowing down on them this year.
And if you’re looking at your bank account and hoping that money will grow from trees, perhaps it’s best if you skip out on this luxury too.
Besides, mooncakes are also a very prevalent gift, and everyone knows it — the chances of you receiving a pretty package are decently high, so there’s that avenue to consider.
Note: The views expressed within this article are the author’s own.
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