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Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore: More than just mooncakes and lanterns

[fa icon="calendar"] Oct 1, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Strada Visual Lab

What are Singaporeans most likely to think of first when it comes to the Mid-Autumn Festival? Well, you can bet that it would be something food-related, with mooncakes being a popular festive treat available only during this specific time of the year. Available in a variety of flavours (including both traditional and modern ones), the origins of the mooncake date back pretty far in ancient Chinese history.


The festival is commemorated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, and first began with moon worship by ancient Chinese emperors. It was also a celebration of the end of Autumn harvest, focusing on three key aspects: gathering, thanksgiving and prayer. There are also several myths linked to moon worship and the Mid-Autumn Festival. The most notable of these is the story of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality.

Chang’e was the wife of Hou Yi, an accomplished archer. When disasters arose as a result of ten suns in the sky, Hou Yi shot down nine suns, while one remained to provide light. Hou Yi received an elixir of immortality as a reward, but refused to drink it so as to remain with Chang’e. Chang’e guarded the elixir, but the elixir was discovered by Hou Yi’s apprentice, who broke into their home and attempted to steal it. To prevent him from getting it, Chang’e drank the elixir instead, and ascended to the moon to remain near Hou Yi, whom she loved dearly. While Hou Yi was heartbroken, he offered sacrifices with Chang’e’s favourite fruits and cakes in her honour.

The story of Chang’e may be one of the more well-known myths, but have you ever wondered, why rabbits? Rabbits are popular motifs, especially on modern festival products, which also originate from an ancient but rather macabre story. It begins with Buddha disguising himself as a hungry man as he approached three animals for help. The first animal, a fox, caught him a fish to eat. The monkey offered him fruit, but the rabbit threw itself into a fire and offered its own flesh. Buddha then resurrected the rabbit out of gratitude and sent it to the moon to be revered.

Modern celebrations may not involve barbecued rabbits, but they certainly do involve mooncakes. These play significant roles in ancient Chinese history. In the 14th century, mooncakes were baked with secret messages inside them as a means to communicate, thus instigating a rebellion against the Mongols.

While many variations of the mooncake exist throughout China and Asia, the traditional baked mooncake and snowskin mooncake are the most popular ones eaten in Singapore. A couple of key differences between a traditional mooncake and snowskin mooncake include the type of flour used for the crust, and the preparation method. A traditional mooncake uses normal plain flour while snowskin requires glutinous rice flour. Snowskin mooncakes also do not require baking, and are usually eaten chilled. Typically filled with a sweet lotus paste, both the baked and snowskin mooncakes can also include other ingredients such as pumpkin seeds and salted duck egg yolks. Modern mooncake flavours also include durian filling, and fruit flavoured snowskin mooncakes, or alcohol infused ones.


As a result of the ingredients used, mooncakes are often high in calories, sugar and fat. A single regular sized baked mooncake with lotus paste is a whopping 716 calories, so you might want to think twice before indulging in an entire piece at one go. Adding two salted egg yolks to that brings the calorie count up to 890 calories, so these treats really should be eaten in moderation.


While healthier alternatives are not readily available commercially, you can always try making your own mooncakes at home and substituting sugar with a low-calorie sweetener such as stevia or erythritol, and using unsaturated fats instead of butter. Using nut flour instead of normal flour helps add more fibre to the treat and also reduce the carbohydrate content.

Above all, eating in moderation is always the best way to go when enjoying any festive treat!


Other articles you may like:

5 Trendy Foods That You Can Make At Home

The Top 5 Nutritional Problems That Seniors Commonly Face

6 Tips for Surviving with Kids without a Live-in Helper


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Topics: Wellness

Strada Visual Lab

Written by Strada Visual Lab

Strada is a creative agency that specialises in content production and marketing services. Our data and results-driven team of designers, writers and developers focus on building brands by having a 360 approach, from conception to production.

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