Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Piglets In Baskets

 Ovidia--every other Tuesday

May riches flow into your life 'like water into a pig's cage'!

Some of my 'piglets in baskets' preparing to be hung up. (Don't worry, the biscuits are safely encased in plastic).

The Midautumn Festival, popularly known around here as the Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival is coming soon. There's going to be a neighbourhood party and these are some of the biscuits I'll be putting up for the kids to find while walking around with their lanterns.

I remember these from when I was a kid. We called them 'Jue Zai Beng' courtesy of our Cantonese amah. I've also heard them called piggy biscuits, mooncake biscuits and doll biscuits. 

This is a much posher example from the Kee Wah bakery--originally in Hong Kong, they're now in Singapore and, I've heard, Los Angeles. No, I'm not connected with or advertising for them, but I love the details on their woven bamboo baskets. I would get them for the baskets alone!

Piglet biscuits are made of the dough used to form the outer layer of mooncakes, so it makes sense that they only appear when mooncakes are available. I believe they originated with the dough balls put into the oven to test the temperature. And since they're just baked dough with no costly fillings of lotus paste or salted egg yolks, they were given to children to distract them from the more expensive mooncakes being saved for the festival itself.

The cages are meant to look like the woven bamboo cages pigs were transported to market in. 

Btw those pig cages come with their own horrible history; if you've ever watched Chinese dramas, you'll have seen these cages used to punish adulterous women... apparently during the Ming and Qing dynasties, women caught in adultery were tied up in pig cages, weighed down with chains and thrown into the river. On television, this gave her time to escape or be rescued, but in real life it must have been a torturous death.

These were illegal executions, mainly carried out in poor farming communities. And the pig-cage drowning was only applicable to married and engaged women. If you were unmarried or a widow, you wouldn't be caged and drowned. This suggests it was less a matter of the woman's morality and more concern about the parentage of a child who might inherit the family farm.

After the Chinese Revolution, the government reformed the sexual double standards--once the blame for adultery was shared between both genders, this vigilante prosecution of women decreased dramatically. 

Now the piggy baskets are seen as a nostalgic throwback to the old days and our childhoods. Well, I'd rather live with a white-washed past than in a black present.

The other thing we'll be celebrating here is Singapore has finally decided that that 377A, the colonial relic criminalising sex between men, will go. 

Remember how, after Britain legalised consensual homosexual acts in 1967, the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher whipped up homophobia with their ‘family values’ campaign? It was a terrible time of discrimination in housing, employment and services and you could be convicted for ‘Gross Indecency’ for smiling at another man in the street. 

It took Britain 47 years to move into some kind of genuine acceptance. Can we learn from them and not take as long? 

I'd love to look back on the early days of this repeal with as much celebratory nostalgia (misplaced or not) as we (vegetarians included) hang up piglet baskets to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Thanks for reading this and again, may riches flow into your life like water into a pig's cage!


  1. Thanks for sharing facts and information with us.

  2. Great to have so many delicious festivals! Even if some can have scary aspects or horrifying pasts...