The Mid-Autumn Festival
The moon has always been the subject in poem and songs in Chinese literature, and most Chinese people regards the full moon on 15th day of 8th lunar month warm and beautiful. That day is called Mid-Autumn Festival, originated from the Moon sacrifices in ancient times.
It comes after harvest season with crops and fruits are all ripe while weather pleasant. For Chinese people, it is also the birthday of the earth god and they use this opportunity to express their gratitude to heaven and earth, together to worship the moon goddess. The custom of worshipping the moon can be traced back to 2000 BC, people hold ceremonies to greet the winter and the moon; while this became popular in Tang Dynasty; while in Song Dynasty, the custom of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations becomes unprecedented popular. Contents varied in different parts of the country, eating moon cake, lighting lanterns and fire dragons, burning incense and some other interesting practices. But nowadays, playing under the full moon is not so popular as before.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also an important occasions for family reunion as the full moon rises, all the families members would sit together and have a get together dinner. After dinner, they would watch the full moon arise in the courtyard and eat moon cake, sing moon poems.
Moon Cakes is the special food on Mid-Autumn Festival, in round shape, measuring about three inches in diameter and one in thickness. The cake is filling with lotus seeds, meat and other stuffing. A golden yolk from a salted duck egg was placed at the center of each cake, and the golden brown crust was decorated with symbols of the festival. In past time, several weeks needed to make moon cakes. Nowadays, automation speed and shorten the time of making moon cakes. It can fill with kinds of stuffing and people would buy it from stores as early as in 7th lunar month. The flavor of moon cake also varies based on region. Moon cakes in Guangdong wrapped in in a pastry-like crust and are famous for their meticulously prepared fillings; while Moon cakes in Peking areas are crisp with savory outer crust. But cakes are all sweet, tasty without being oily.
At some parts of China, eating pomelo on Mid-Autumn Day is an indispensable activities. The name of this fruit is homophonous with that for "blessing", and is considered auspicious. It features at pointed top, round bottom and thin skin with honey sweet taste.
In Chinese Culture, there are three legends concern about the goodness and other characters at the moon palace.
One is about Chang'e, whose husband was known and beloved as he used his red bow and white arrows to shot down nine suns that made a big drought for the human kind and left one sun. Chang'e and Houyi had a romantic meeting and they got married afterwards. In order to live an eternal happy live with Chang'e, Hou Yi went to the Kunlun Mountain and asked for help from Western Queen Mother. The Western Queen Mother rewarded him elixir and told her if he and Chang'e share the elixir on on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, they can both enjoy eternal life; but if only one take it, that one will ascend to heaven and become immoral. Hou Yi came back home and told Chang'e but a wicked man named Feng Meng heard about the plan and decided to take the medicine away. On that day, when Hou Yi was still on his way back home, the wicked man murdered the husband and forced Chang'e to give him the elixir. In great pain, Chang'e drank all the elixir and went to the heaven. Even though she is in Heaven, her heart remains in the world of mortals. Never does she forget the deep love she has for Hou Yi and the love she feels for the people who have shared their sadness and happiness.
Another Story is about Wu Gang Chopping down the cassia tree. He is a wood cutter fascinated with immortality. The Jade Emperor angered and banished him to Moon Place to cut down a huge cassia tree. He chopped day and night but the holy tree restored itself with each blow Wu Gang made. And thus he is up there chopping still.
The Jade Rabbit in Moon Palace is also well-known. In the legend, three gods transformed themselves into poor and pity old men and begged something to eat from fox, monkey and rabbit. The fox and monkey refused to help these three men while rabbit offered himself into the blazing fire. The three sages were so touched and brought the rabbit to the Moon Palace, to accompany Chang'e.
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