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.

张若虚:春江花月夜   

   春江潮水连海平﹐海上明月共潮生。
   滟滟随波千万里﹐何处春江无月明。
   江流宛转绕芳甸﹐月照花林皆似霰。
   空里流光不觉飞﹐汀上白沙看不见。
   江天一色无纤尘﹐皎皎空中孤月轮。
   江畔何人初见月﹐江月何年初照人。
   人生代代无穷矣﹐江月年年只相似。
   不知江月待何人﹐但见长江送流水。
   白云一片去悠悠﹐青枫浦上不胜愁。
   谁家今夜扁舟子﹐何处相思明月楼。
   可怜楼上月徘徊﹐应照离人妆镜台。
   玉户帘中卷不去﹐捣衣砧上复还来。
   此时相望不相闻﹐愿逐月华流照君。
   鸿燕长飞光不渡﹐鱼龙潜跃水成纹。
   昨夜闲潭梦落花﹐可怜春半不还家。
   江水流春去欲尽﹐江潭落月复西斜。
   斜月沉沉藏海雾﹐碣石潇湘无限路。
   不知乘月几人归﹐落月摇情满江树。

◎唐朝扬州诗人张若虚的《春江花月夜》,被前人誉为“孤篇盖全唐”的杰作,也曾被闻一多先生称为:“这是诗中的诗,顶峰上的顶峰。”读此诗,你会领悟诗、乐、画融为一体的月夜春江的迷人意境…… 

 

Picture: