The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival in China. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually in September or October in western calendar. Chinese people generally have a 3-day statutory holiday in celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival. All the family members or close friends will meet together, eat mooncakes and admire the full, bright moon while talking about the happy life.
Mooncake, the symbol of Mid-Autumn Festival
Legend of the Mid-Autumn Festival
In ancient time, there were ten suns rising in the sky, which scorched all crops and drove people into dire poverty. A hero named Hou Yi shot down the nine suns one after another. He ordered the last sun to rise and set according to time. Because of this, he was respected and loved by people. Lots of young men came to him and learn martial arts from him. A person named Peng Meng lurked in them.
Someday, Empress Wangmu gave Hou Yi a parcel of elixir. It is said that if one eats the elixir, he will ascend immediately to heaven. However, Hou Yi is not willing to part with his wife - Chang E. So he gave the elixir to his wife to hide it. Chang E hid the parcel in a treasure box at her dressing table, but it was seen by Peng Meng.
One day when Hou Yi went hunting, Peng Meng rushed into his room and forced Chang E to hand over the elixir. Aware that she was unable to defeat Peng Meng, Chang E made a prompt decision at that critical moment. She took up the elixir and swallowed it in one gulp. As soon as she swallowed the elixir her body floated off the ground, dashed out of the window and flew towards heaven. Peng Meng escaped.
When Hou Yi returned home, he knew what had happened. He looked up into the night sky and called out the name of his beloved wife, suddenly, he found that the moon was especially clear and bight and on it there was a swaying shadow that was exactly like his wife. He tried his best to chase after the moon, but in vain.
Thinking of his wife day and night, Hou Yi had an incense table arranged in the back garden. Putting on the table sweetmeats and fresh fruits Chang E enjoyed most, Hou Yi held at a distance a memorial ceremony for Chang E who was sentimentally attached to him in the palace of the moon.
When people heard of the story, they arranged the incense table in the moonlight one after another and prayed Chang E for good fortune and peace. From then on the custom of worshiping the moon spread among the people.
Customs on Mid-Autumn Festival:
The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important holidays in China only after Chinese New Year. There are a lot of cultural or regional customs to celebrate it.
Admiring and offering sacrifice to the moon
Appreciating the moon at the Mid-autumn festival is a spontaneous folk custom dating back to Wei and Jin dynasties (220-420AD). it's developed from the custom of offering sacrifice to the moon. Today, the solemn sacrifice has been replaced by the simple appreciation of the moon. When they appreciate the full moon, people will think of their friends or relatives afar. The Mid-autumn Festival is considered as a festival of family reunion.
The most popular custom is eating moon cakes while enjoying the full moon at night. Mooncake consists of a crust and stuffing. The crust is usually made of wheat flour, oil or fat, sugar and maltose. The fillings can be egg, beans, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat, or a combination of them. The steamed mooncake is very delicious! In most cases, it only shows up around the festival.
Enjoying sweet osmanthus flowers
Autumn is the season of osmanthus flowers. People will enjoy the fragrance of sweet osmanthus flowers and eating pastries made of osmanthus sugar.
China is a vast land with a large population. People from different ethnic groups and regions have their own way of celebrations and customs. In some ethnic minority groups, dances are held for young men and women to find partners. One by one, young women are encouraged to throw their handkerchiefs to the crowd. The young man who catches and returns the handkerchief has a chance of romance. In Taiwan region, barbecuing with family and friends on the Mid-Autumn Festival is common. Firing dragon dances are often seen in Hong Kong area. Most people would like to carry brightly lit lanterns, light lanterns on towers or fly kites, wishing for good luck.
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