22 September 2010

† Revealing The Mystery of Moon Cake Festival †

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, Zhong Qiu Festival (中秋節), is a popular festival celebrated by the Chinese and even the Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese. The festival is sometimes known as Lantern Festival or Moon Cake Festival. There are many stories behind this festival and I only like the following stories shown below.

Story of Chang Er (姮娥)
This famous story of Chang Er was written back in 2170 B.C. The earth once had ten suns circling over it, each took its turn to illuminate to the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching and torturing the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong and tyrannical archer named Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns and left one that only appear in the day time, but hidden in during the night time. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess and became a ruler full of cruelty. However his beautiful wife Chang Er drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he didn't shoot down the moon.

Story of Wu Kang (吳剛)
Wu Kang was a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time. One day he decided that he wanted to be an immortal. Wu Kang then went to live in the mountains where he met up an immortal to teach him the path to achieve immortality. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness, but after three days his characteristic restlessness returned and he asked the immortal to teach him something else. So the immortal to teach him chess, but after a short while Wu Kang's enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Kang was given the books of immortality to study. Of course, Wu Kang became bored within a few days, and asked if they could travel to some new and exciting place. Angered with Wu Kang's impatience, the master banished Wu Kang to the Moon Palace telling him that he must cut down a huge cassia tree before he could return to earth. Though Wu Kang chopped day and night, the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and thus he is up there chopping still.

Story of Jade Rabbit (玉兔)
In this legend, three fairy sages from the Moon Palace transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a the animals. In this story, a fox, a monkey and a rabbit were involved. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."

Present Day
Tea and moon cakes are the main dish of this festival. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather around to enjoy the moon cake and tea drinking, as well as admiring the bright harvest moon. Accompanying with the celebration, additional cultural activities are also being practiced by people from different places such as carrying lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns, fire dragon dance, poetry and singing competition and etc...

2 comments:

  1. Happy Mooncake Festival! Nice banner there. XD

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  2. when I read the jade rabbit story i thought the three animals were gonna turn into mooncakes! woulda been a more interesting story :P

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