An increasing number of couples are giving out rice gift boxes instead of cookies as a way of announcing their impending matrimony and thanking family and guests on the big day, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
“We introduced rice gift boxes as a wedding gift tradition last June, and so far 32,000 packages have been sold,” said Yu Sheng-feng (游勝鋒), deputy director-general of the Agriculture and Food Agency.
The agency has launched 23 different rice gift boxes featuring different types of rice, Yu said, adding that more sets would be introduced, with the rice packages either bearing the council's Certified Agricultural Standard (CAS) mark or detailed production resumes.
The Chinese wedding cookie business is a multibillion-dollar industry in Taiwan, with the groom's family offering the treat to all the bride's friends and relatives.
The tradition of giving out disc-shaped sweet pastries with various fillings in different sizes date back to the Three Kingdoms era in China.
According to folklore, when Sun Quan (孫權), the warlord of the eastern Wu kingdom, lost Jingzhou to his rival, Liu Bei (劉備), his military strategist advised him to tempt Liu to cross the border by offering his sister's hand in marriage, and then killing him later.
However, Liu's wise and famous military strategist, Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮), saw through Sun's plot. To counter Sun's plot, Zhuge Liang summoned the best pastry makers in Jingzhou to make 10,000 wedding cookies for the couple and sent a troop of soldiers to distribute the cookies to everyone in Sun's capital. Not only did everyone learn that Sun's younger sister had been promised off, Sun's mother also learned of her son's plan to potentially make her cherished daughter a young widow.
In the end, because the wedding had been publicly announced, Sun had to give his sister in marriage to Liu as promised and was not able to carry out his plan to kill his rival.
Since then, the practice of giving out cookies to announce a wedding has continued. Other types of treats, such as wedding tea leaves and wedding rice, have also become popular.