Growing up in the US with a Chinese-American background, I found it difficult to connect with my culture while balancing my first-generation American identity. As I grew older, I realized that food had played an essential role in my appreciation and understanding of my heritage and where my roots come from. I had developed an association of comfort with the familiar Asian flavors that I could always come home to.
I founded Baisun Candle Co. in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, in hopes to reconnect with my culture & heritage. Whenever I felt homesick, my instinct would be to go to the closest Chinatown market or H-mart. I would indulge in Asian snacks like hawflakes and Melona bars while breathing in the aromas of star anise and dried chrysanthemum– ingredients not typically found at your local “international foods” aisle.
Since transitioning to working on Baisun full-time, I’m fortunate to be able to share the lessons and history behind the Asian scents and flavors we enjoy while making “this smells like home” a more accessible phrase to the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community & allies with our hand crafted, clean-burning, phthalate, and paraben-free soy candles.
What does “Baisun” mean?
In Chinese, ‘Baisun’ means “to pray for one’s ancestors”.
Every summer, my Popo (grandmother) would take me to the temples to ‘baisun’, which involved an entire day’s worth of tasks. After taking a series of Hong Kong double-decker tramways (with no air conditioning) and walking miles through Hong Kong’s notoriously hot and humid summer weather, we would then finally begin the ceremonial tasks to ‘baisun’.
I was instructed to complete assignments from preparing a full meal and pouring wine on the ground, to lighting incense sticks and bowing and even burning joss paper in front of a scorching fire pit to send to our ancestors in heaven while the Taoist priests would chant ancient incantations. Like any respectful grandson, I followed along even though I was unacquainted with the cultural significance of what I was doing at that time– knowing that I would then be rewarded with sweets and treats from local street-food vendors and monks our family had befriended over the years.
Some of my fondest memories were getting to enjoy the local Hong Kong flavors & ingredients while exploring where my family had immigrated from. I’m really proud to be able to share these cultural stories and lessons through candles & nostalgic home fragrances with our community while paying homage to our Asian identity and upbringing.