mooncakes etc

Mid-autumn Day is past, yet I still see lots of mooncakes left unsold in the supermarkets.


Mid-autumn Day embodies Chinese culture through three symbols.


The first symbol is the mooncake. It stands for family reunion and a good harvest. The second symbol is the moon, the full and bright moon on the night of Mid-autumn Day. The moon plays a very important part in Chinese culture, which emphasizes family. The moon has always been the source of inspiration for writers, poets and artists to create their works. It is a positive image in our mind. Contrasted with Chinese culture, western culture treats the moon as something cold and negative. There was a superstition in the west that women tended to go crazy on a moonlit night. Of course the third symbol of Mid-autumn Day is the tree osmanthus and its sweet-scented blossoms. The tree bursts into blossom around Mid-autumn Day, thus making people connect the festival with it.


It is a festival of family and harvest. It has been the custom that family members get together and have a get-together and that married daughters go back and visit their own parents. In fact the first mooncake I had had was brought to my home by my aunt, who came back to my family one Mid-autumn Day. The ingredients of the moon, which are usually all kinds of nuts, fruits, sesame seeds and others, represent a good harvest.


Things are changing, though. I don’t think it is easy for family members, especially extended family members to get together. Nowadays family members could be scattered all across the country, for education and job reasons. Large numbers of peasants leave their home villages and migrate to cities and it is not practical for them to go back to their family for the day. The majority of university students can’t make it to their family, either, given the fact that they attend university a long distance away from home.


Another aspect which has changed a lot is the loss of meaning of mooncakes. In the past mooncakes were largely home made and hand made. They were something to value. In my memory I couldn’t eat mooncakes every year. In some years I had to go without mooncakes for Mid-autumn Day. But today ask the kids around you and you will find out that very few like the symbolic food. There has been too much of it on the market and also mass production has made mooncakes quite easily accessible.


Though mooncakes are losing their appeal, food producers are nonetheless enthusiastic about them. On the market there are elaborately packaged mooncakes, aimed at the huge gift season. Buyers of such mooncakes are not their eaters. They end up as gifts to relatives, bosses and all kinds of connections. For family consumption most people would buy those simple and delicious ones. My family spent about 15 yuan on some mooncakes for the day. And we got a beautiful package of mooncakes from a friend. I am sure this package cost more than 100 yuan. When I unpacked the mooncakes, I found there were only eight of them, but the eight mooncakes were carefully wrapped by six layers of packaging. I bet the packaging cost more than the mooncakes. Besides, the cakes tasted less good than the little cheap ones we bought in the supermarket. This is a waste of resources and I would never buy such mooncakes.


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