Folklore Part 2 – Mooncakes & Soldiers

We eat mooncakes every Mid-Autumn Festival. The variety of mooncakes has expanded over the years (e.g. snow-skin mooncakes and durian flavored mooncakes). I am so looking forward to savouring them again this coming Mid-Autumn Festival.

However, do you know that eating mooncakes has its history with soldiers? This is what the second common folklore is about.

The Story:

Back in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Mongols ruled China. The Han people’s army planned to overthrow the Mongol rulers by staging an uprising. However, they had to find a way to inform all the Han people discreetly without getting caught by the Mongols.

The answer – mooncakes. Under the directions of the military advisor to the Han people’s army, Liu Bowen, the soldiers spread rumours about a serious disease that would plague the country the coming winter. They then told the Han people that eating mooncakes would prevent them from contracting the disease.

In the meantime, the soldiers wrote “uprising, on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival” on small slips of papers and inserted them into the mooncakes, which in turn were sold to the Han people.

On the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, things went as planned. A major uprising by the Han people happened.

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Many people believe that from then on, people started eating mooncakes every Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the uprising.

When I revisited this folklore recently, I was impressed by the way mooncakes can be used for such great purposes, if it was indeed true. Well, there are still some contention as to whether mooncakes were really used to stage the uprising.

Nonetheless, it is still a good story to go with your mooncake this coming Mid-Autumn Festival!

Tomorrow: Mid-Autumn traditions in Singapore

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