The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important festivals in China. It is traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, and will take place on September 30 this year. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, this day is the exact midst of autumn, so it’s called the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Legend of Mid-Autumn Festival
Like the Double Seventh Festival which was celebrated earlier, there is also a bitter-sweet love story behind the Mid-Autumn Festival. According to the famous Chinese legend, the sky was originally lit by ten suns, whose combined heat scorched the earth and crops so that the people had nothing to eat. To save the world from imminent starvation, the famous archer Houyi, who had a beautiful and dedicated wife Chang’e, shot down nine of the suns with his bow. Life was restored and humanity was saved.
Out of respect for the good deeds Houyi had done, the Western Queen Mother rewarded him with an elixir. She told him that if he and his wife shared the elixir, they would both enjoy eternal life; but if only one of them took it, that one would ascend to Heaven and become immortal. Houyi returned home and told his wife what had happened. They decided to drink the elixir together on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon was full and bright.
A wicked and merciless man named Feng Meng overheard their plan. He wanted to drink the elixir himself and become immortal. One day, his opportunity finally arrived. When Houyi was out hunting, he forced Chang’e to give him the elixir. Without hesitating, Chang’e picked up the elixir and drunk it all. Soon the elixir began to take effect and Chang’e felt herself being lifted towards Heaven. She decided to live on the moon because it was the nearest to the earth. Even though she was in Heaven, her heart remained in the world of mortals. Never did she forget the deep love she had for Houyi.
Thinking of his wife day and night, Houyi then had an incense table arranged in the back garden, and put on the table sweetmeats and fresh fruits that Chang’e enjoyed most. He held a memorial ceremony for Chang’e who was sentimentally attached to him in the palace of the moon.
Celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival
Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated extensively across China. On that night, the moon appears to be at its roundest and brightest. The full moon is a symbol for family reunion. Every year when the festival comes, people go home from every corner of the country and the world to meet their family and have dinner with them. They get together, admiring the full moon and eating mooncakes, a special kind of cake prepared in the shape of the moon and filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and duck eggs. Besides mooncakes, people also enjoy eating star fruit, pomelo, persimmon, red taro and water caltrops during the festival. Lanterns are also a popular feature of the festival. The most common ones are paper lanterns wrought in traditional styles.
Inspired by the touching love story of Chang’e and Houyi, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a celebration of love and romance. It is a day when Chinese couples swear their mutual love under the full moon while separated lovers pray for reunion. If you are far away from your loved one, this festival offers you a great chance to remind her how much you miss her. So don’t forget to send her a special gift or a romantic love message on that day to show your affection and yearning for reunion!