Moon Cake Festival/Mid Autumn Festival 中秋节 – A Brief Account
The Moon Cake Festival also called the Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most celebrated festival in the Chinese calendar . There are two different legends which supported this Festival. The Chang-e and the Jade Rabbit legend and the overthrow of the Mongols/liberation of Yuan China led by Zhu Yuan Zhuang.
In the earlier years, the gifting of moon cakes in Singapore, as part of the Festival was confined mainly to family and relatives. Traditional shops like Tai Chong Kok 大中国, Emperor Restaurant 皇后, Tai Thong 大东，Nam Tong 南唐, Tai Tong 大同， 梁广记 etc used to do roaring business. Rumour has it that some of these shops had to use old kerosene tins to keep their cash collections.
On 20th July 1969, the world watched with bated breathe as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in the Apollo Moon Mission. When Neil Armstrong did not see anything resembling Chang-e , the Jade Rabbit etc, many expected the Moon Cake Festival to peter out. Surprisingly, corporate gifting of moon cakes gained momentum. By then, the big name hotels such as Mandarin Hotel, Raffles Hotel, Shangrila Hotel etc muscled their way into the business . Their superior packaging, advertisements and promotions over the media and in shopping malls etc cornered the corporate gifting market and a portion of the personal gifting market for themselves.
The traditional shops were left with only remnants of the “customary family gifting”. By then more players joined in the competition e g. Bengawan Solo and some HDB heartland cake shops. Home-made moon cake vendors also joined in the fray. In recent years, Hong Kong vendors like Maxim’s 美心，Kee Wah 奇華 etc added to the competition.
Faced with such stiff competition, a number of the traditional shops exited the business. With Covid-19 and the economic down-turn, even the brand names are hit. How the supply-demand situation will turn out will be interesting to watch.