Endemic phase sees more sales of mooncakes
By:Lee Shaw Wei
Date:
KCH-mid autumn festival-cover

KUCHING: The Mooncake Festival or Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival, is a traditional festival celebrated within the Chinese culture.

Similar holidays can be found celebrated in Japan which is known as Tsukimi or Otsukimi, Chuseok in Korea and many more in East and Southeast Asia.

It is one of the most celebrated holidays in Chinese culture, with its importance second to that of Chinese New Year.

 The festival is annually celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar with a full moon at night, which the Chinese believe the moon to be at its biggest in size and brightest that symbolises thanksgiving, togetherness and reunion in Chinese culture.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is based on the legend of Chang Er, the immortal moon goddess in Chinese mythology.

During the festival, lanterns or Deng Long in Mandarin, of different sizes and shapes are either carried or displayed as symbolic beacons that light everyone’s paths to good fortune and prosperity.

Additionally, mooncakes or Yue Bing, either in rich pastry or snow-skin that are typically filled with sweet beans, egg yolk, or green tea, are traditionally eaten during the festival.

Mooncakes

Lanterns displayed in shopping mall.

Eating and sharing mooncakes, generally served with Chinese tea, is one of the trademark traditions of the festival besides carrying or displaying lanterns. In Chinese culture, the roundness of the mooncakes, just like the moon, symbolises completeness, reunion and togetherness of the whole family.

By eating and sharing the mooncakes within the family, it shows the unity of the family.

Normally, mooncakes can be found either in traditional shops or in the malls approximately a month before Mid-Autumn Festival.

 Mooncakes sold in traditional shops or local markets are usually cheaper and with their own distinct and unique flavours. Mooncakes available there are commonly sold in transparent cellophane.

Meanwhile, mooncakes sold in malls would usually come with attractive packaging or fancy gift boxes, are generally more expensive and usually bought as gifts for friends or families due to its packaging.

Keeping the tradition alive

One of the traditional mooncakes sold at Chin Hian Chia

For Chin Hian Chia, also known as Chin Hiang Chay, one of the city’s oldest traditional mooncake shops in Padungan that has been in the business since 1941, it is all about keeping the traditional business going for generations.

The owner, Tsan Tze Hian, 80, said that they do not want to rely on the machines to mass produce it since they know how to bake the mooncakes themselves.

“We intend to keep our tradition going as this is a family business, which I inherited along with my siblings from our father to keep our distinct and unique flavours in the market which cannot be replicated,” he said.

He opened up that their 81-year-old business was affected by COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years but thankfully it is slowly regaining pace as the people move into the endemic phase in Malaysia.

“Our business was definitely affected by COVID-19 in the past two years and since there are less customers due to all the restrictions that were put in place in the last couple of years during the pandemic, we decided to bake less mooncakes than the amount that we used to bake.

Tsan Tze Hian

“Thankfully, our business has started to recover this year due to the restrictions being lifted, albeit it has yet to hit the heights that we used to have before the pandemic,” he added.

With the world currently experiencing inflation which has seen the prices of goods increased, the traditional mooncake shop is not immune from the new crisis.

“I would not deny that we are also affected by the recent inflation as the prices of our base ingredients have gone up.

“It is unavoidable and even though we have increased the prices of our mooncakes by a little, I believe that our mooncakes are still one of the cheapest in town because it is handmade by ourselves,” he added.

He also told the New Sarawak Tribune that aside from the traditional baked mooncakes, the shop also offers non-baked snow skin mooncakes, with a variety of flavours available for both types of mooncakes.

New found opportunity comes with lifted restrictions

One of the Duria booths available in Kuching.

Meanwhile, Keith Yeap, 26, the sales and marketing executive of Duria East Malaysia, said that with the restrictions now lifted as we move into the endemic phase, new opportunity arises for them.

“Previously due to the movement control order (MCO) in place during the pandemic, we were only able to distribute our mooncakes to our agents in Sarawak and Sabah in order for them to sell it to their customers online.

Keith Yeap

“However, with the restrictions slowly being lifted, we decided to set up some booths at the Spring and other shopping malls in Kuching,” he said.

He added that the business is slowly gathering pace as they are able to set up booths this year, unlike in the past two years where they were only able to sell their mooncakes online.

“We were not affected much by COVID-19 previously as we were still able to conduct our business online but now with all the booths set up this year, customers will have the chance to drop by and look at the products by themselves physically, instead of just looking at our products from the photos online,” he added.

He believes that they are not affected much by the inflation crisis that is going on around the world and is confident their revenues will increase in the following year.

“The selling price of our products remained unchanged in the midst of inflation as we want to ensure that our customers are able to buy our products at reasonable price,” he added.

In a nutshell, with an abundance of options available in the market, from traditional handmade mooncakes to the new ones that are being supplied and sold in malls, every individual will definitely be able to find one that suits their own tastes and needs.

It has in turn made the festival not only celebrated by the Chinese but other races are joining in as well, especially in Sarawak, which showcases the unity of Sarawakians that are able to live in peace and harmony despite coming from different backgrounds and diverse cultures.

Mooncakes by Duria

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