Festival

Moon Festival Festivities in Cambodia

The popular Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated on September 10 and while festivities in Cambodia are expected to be bigger than the previous two years, mooncake vendors report slow sales
A moon cake seller in Phnom Penh, September 9, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A moon cake seller in Phnom Penh, September 9, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, is celebrated on Saturday and while festivities in Cambodia are expected to be bigger than the previous two years, mooncake vendors report slow sales.

Vendors were selling mooncakes and materials on Friday for worshippers along roads, especially around markets, in particular Orussey market, Olympic market and Russian market.

Even though this year is crowded with mooncakes, some vendors remain concerned about not being able to sell all of the mooncakes they have ordered for the one-day festival.

Heang Phally, 56, told Kiripost one day before the Mooncake festival as she was selling her cakes in front of Orussey market that she has not sold as many mooncakes as she did four or five years ago.

“I always sell mooncakes whenever the occasion comes, but I don’t sell much from morning till now [this evening], it is not the same like I used to sell in the past few years,” she said.

Even though she has been selling mooncakes at the festival for 20 years around the Orussey market area, she does not know the history behind the festival. She only sells the cakes during the festival time.

Mooncake Festival is a traditional festival celebrated in Chinese culture. Similar holidays are celebrated in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other countries in East and Southeast Asia. Cambodia is another country that marks the Mooncake Festival annually.

It is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture; its popularity is on par with that of Chinese New Year. The history of the Mid-Autumn Festival dates back more than 3,000 years.

The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar with the full moon lighting up the sky at night, corresponding with mid-September to early-October of the Gregorian calendar. On this day, the Chinese believe that the Moon is at its brightest and largest, coinciding with harvest time in the middle of Autumn.

People buy mooncakes at a market in Phnom Penh, September 9, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
People buy mooncakes at a market in Phnom Penh, September 9, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Another mooncake seller at Orussey market, San Sreypov, said she only ordered mooncakes to sell a few days ago, but saw the opportunity to sell more during and before the festival as she noticed most Khmer people always celebrate this Chinese festival annually like a traditional festival.

“Actually, I sell only egg cakes and some worship materials mixed together. But now I ordered mooncakes to sell too because I think more people will come to buy mooncakes than egg cakes,” said Sreypov.

She mentioned that even though the market is crowded, she has not sold many.

Making and sharing mooncakes is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival. In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. Thus, the sharing and eating of round mooncakes among family members during the week of the festival signifies the completeness and unity of families.

In modern times, making mooncakes at home has given way to the more popular custom of giving mooncakes to family members, although the meaning of maintaining familial unity remains.