Last weekend, colourful lantern displays adorned public parks, and young children squealed in delight as they frolicked around neighbourhoods – sparklers in hand. Mooncake sales tripled as aunties and uncles milled about the shopping mall booths looking for discounted boxes to share with family and friends. And by now, you can probably buy them in bulk at half price.
The Mid-Autumn Festival always entails communal gatherings and mooncake hunting. When I was a child, my parents used to bring home mooncakes of every conceivable colour. I would eagerly nibble on small wedges to test out which flavour tasted the best before snatching my favourite cake away into my room and devouring it whole.
Nearing the celebrations, my grandmother would also visit our home, bringing her favourite boxes of mooncakes and munching on a few as post-dinner snacks. But she suffered a serious fall earlier this year and is now bedridden at a nursing home. There was a palpable sense of loss at the dining table – without her constant guffaws and teasing, my family felt less motivated to enjoy the festivities.
Which prompts the questions – beyond food and decorations, how is the Mid-Autumn Festival relevant to younger generations? What do these aesthetically pleasing desserts symbolise? Without the anchor of older adults keeping traditions alive, do the celebrations still hold a special place in youths’ hearts?
As the giddy euphoria of weekend festivities fades, we are left to contemplate the true meaning of the Moon festival. I’m particularly interested in what mooncakes represent. The round shape of the traditional dessert, in fact, stands for wholeness and togetherness. It also symbolises family reunion and wealth, complementing the harvest moon in the night sky.
For me, at least, this evokes a yearning for simpler times. Grief overcomes me as I think about how the Mid-Autumn Festival will never feel complete again with my grandmother’s absence. Her laughter still echoes in my mind when I remember her slicing mooncakes into tiny wedges and passing them around the house.
But this is just my personal experience, of course. I believe many families will continue to forge cherished memories during the festival – now and in the years to come. And mooncakes don’t necessarily need to adhere to convention. Some millennials have put their own unique twist on them and modernised the bakes to make them more appealing to their peers.
That includes Evelyn Lim from Mdm Ling Bakery. A quick browse on her company’s site would reveal mooncake sets packaged in funky board-game-themed boxes. From Monopoly to chess, the vibrant game boxes are an immediate stand-out from other mooncake collections that we’re more used to seeing.
“Since we are already seated around the table enjoying our mooncakes, why not introduce more elements of fun and joy at the dining table?” shared Evelyn.
The universally simple games – snakes & ladders, Monopoly, and Imperial Chinese Chess – are meant to complement the enjoyment of mooncakes. While eating with family and friends, you can instantly transform a regular meal into a fun board game session by flipping open the packaging.
Evelyn explained: “Quality mooncakes have a quality correlation with quality bonding time. As we bond over the different types of mooncakes, we share moments of sweet indulgence and simple pleasures.”
It’s efforts like these that make the festival into something trendy and fashionable for youths to enjoy, while still retaining its original essence. Customs can be tweaked to better suit our modern lives. As long as people still come together to build stronger bonds during the season, what’s the harm in adding a little spin to tradition?
Culture has to find ways to stay relevant, after all. Whether it is cartoon lanterns or innovative mooncakes, these are things that will allow Gen Zs and millennials to reshape the Moon Festival on their own terms and create fond memories. Perhaps, even I will eventually learn to move on from my grief and find new, refreshing ways to celebrate it with other loved ones in the future.
In the end, it cannot be denied that familial ties are important – no matter if you’re a boomer or zoomer. We’re just searching for alternative methods to let the festival spirit live on for people of all ages.
“It’s important to make the Mid-Autumn Festival meaningful for everyone – young parents and little ones included. Every moment spent together with different generations counts,” emphasised Evelyn.
Mdm Ling Bakery’s Mooncake Game Boxes are now on discount. Get 25% off any three boxes and 18% off one or two boxes. More details are available here!
Cover Photo courtesy of @billykwok via Unsplash. Additional Photos courtesy of Mdm Ling Bakery.