Mid-Autumn Festival

2019-09-10 21:33:32 CHINA TODAY 2019年9期

By staff reporter DANG XIAOFEI

THE 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar (which falls on September 13 this year) is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Because its main activities center around themes connected with the moon, it is also known as the Moon Festival. On the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, since the moon is full, symbolizing reunion, it is also called the Reunion Festival. The tradition of this festival has continued for more than 2,000 years.

Origin

The tradition of the Mid-Autumn Festival originated from the sacrificial activities of ancient emperors. In ancient times, Chinese emperors conducted ritual ceremonies of offering sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. It was customary to worship the sun on the morning of the 15th day of the second lunar month in spring and the moon on the evening of the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in autumn. As time passed, officials and scholars followed suit and the custom gradually spread among the common people.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), there was a custom of enjoying the moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival, and many poets composed verses in which they talked about the moon. The popularity of the festival increased during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and in the early Song Dynasty the date was officially set as the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival during the Song Dynasty, wealthy families decorated pavilions in their gardens with flourishing flowers, while folks eagerly occupied restaurants and teahouses to enjoy the night.

Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival is not only celebrated in China, but can also in Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asian countries which have been influenced by Chinese culture.

Legend

Concerning the Mid-Autumn Festival, the legend of the Goddess Change flying to the moon is the most widely spread.

According to legend, in ancient times, 10 suns one day suddenly appeared in the sky, the crops withered, and the people were reaching the edge of starvation. A hero named Hou Yi, being a man of great strength, drew his bow and shot down nine of the suns, and ordered the last sun to rise and fall on time for the benefit of the people.

As a result, all the people respected him. Many people studied martial arts with him. Among the crowds of people who followed and worshiped Hou Yi as a teacher, there was a man named Feng Meng, who was a treacherous and greedy man.

Change, Hou Yis wife, was a beautiful and kind woman. She often helped the poor, and the folks liked her very much. One day, Hou Yi got a cure-all pill from the the Queen Mother of the West. It was said that by taking this medicine a person could not only become immortal, but also immediately be taken to heaven. However, Hou Yi was reluctant to leave his wife and gave the immortal pill to Change. She hid it in the treasure chest of the dressing table.