Mid-Autumn Festival - Sept 8, 2014

A time of celebration, mooncakes, and family reunions, Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 8th this year.  

There are many stories about the origins of Mid-Autumn Festival, and the one most associated with the festival is the story of Hou Yi and Chang’e, which itself has multiple versions.

One version goes like this: Once upon a time in ancient China, ten suns hung in the sky. The heat of the suns caused a drought and the harvest began to shrivel up. The emperor of China asked his master archer, Hou Yi, to shoot down all but one of the ten suns.

Hou Yi climbed to the top of Kunlun Mountain, shooting down nine suns. The grateful emperor presented him with a pill that would grant him immortality. However, Hou Yi had a beautiful wife, Chang’e, and he did not wish to become immortal without her.

After Hou Yi was acclaimed as a hero, he stashed away the pill in a secret place. Feng Meng, a student of Hou Yi’s, discovered the existence of the pill. One day, when Hou Yi was away, Feng Meng tried to force Chang’e to give him the pill. Instead, Chang’e swallowed the pill herself, and she flew up into the moon and became immortal.

Missing his beloved wife, Hou Yi burned incense and food offerings, and the practice spread throughout China. It is said that during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chang’e and Hou Yi are reunited—which is why Mid-Autumn Festival is also an important day for families to come together.

During Mid-Autumn Festival, people traditionally eat mooncakes and look at the full moon.

The Moon Cake has a story related to Zhu Yuanzhang's Uprising In late Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 AD) when people in many parts of the country could not bear the cruel rule of the government and rose in revolt. Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD), united the different resistance forces and wanted to organize an uprising. However, due to the narrow search by government, it was very difficult to pass messages. The counselor Liu Bowen later though out the great idea of hiding notes with “uprise on the night of August 15th” in moon cakes and had them sent to different resistance forces. The uprising turned to be very successful and Zhu was so happy that he awarded his subjects with moon cakes on the following Mid-Autumn Festival. Since then, eating moon cakes has been a custom on Mid-Autumn Festival.