Chinese Harvest Festival Mid-August/Mid-Autumn Festival
About the Festival • Lunar August 15th is the Mid-August day, it is one of the most important traditional holidays in China. Since the autumn season consists of lunar July, August, and September, it is also called the Mid-Autumn day. It is just after the harvest of all crops, so it is a festival to celebrate the harvest.
Festival History Mid-Autumn (仲秋) began to appear in a book 《周礼》about 2000 years ago. Initially, Chinese would hold a ceremony to worship the God of Land (土地神) to express thanks for giving the harvest.
Hou-Yi Shot Suns Down A long long time ago, there were ten suns in the sky. They dried almost everything to burn. People suffered terribly. So, the Heaven Emperor sent a god Hou-Yi and his wife Chang-E to human being world to solve the problem. He shot down nine suns and kept only one in the sky, as that is the best and useful to human beings. However, someone else envied him very much, so they went to the Emperor and said some bad words about him. The Emperor decided to deny Hou-Yi and told his wife return to Heaven.
Chang-E (嫦娥) Story There are three different stories about Chang-E. One story says that Hou-Yi went to see Xi-Wang-Mu, an heaven Queen-like fairy, and begged her for some medicine that could make both living forever if they shared the medicine, or make one ascend back to the heaven world if just one intake it. Since Chang-E did not like to live in human world, she took it by herself when Hou-Yi was out, and she flew to the Moon, and lived in the moon palace lonely, with a jade rabbit with her only.
The second story says that Hou-Yi had an affair with a River God’s (河伯) wife. When Chang-E found it, she was very upset and thus decided to eat the medicine by herself rather than share it with Hou-Yi. When she flew up to the Moon, she recalled all good things Hou-Yi did for her. She regretted for not sharing the medicine, but it could not be undone. So she is living in the moon palace sadly now.
The third story says that after Hou-Yi shot down nine suns, he was treated as a human hero, and thus many youths came to be his students. Among his students, there was a greedy one, who wanted to have Chang-E as his own wife and also have the medicine. One day, when Hou-Yi was out, this guy tried to force Chang-E to give him the medicine. To hide the medicine, Chang-E put the pill into her mouth, but that made her flow up. In order to be close to Hou-Yi, she decided to fly to the moon, rather than come back to the heaven world.
Can you find Chang-E, Wu Gang, and the rabbit on the moon? They were supposed to be visible to us on this brightest day.
There are also other stories about the Moon. One story says that the Moon God is an old female who can heal human being diseases. Another story says that the Moon God is an old man, called Yue-Laor (月佬) who is a match-maker. He ties a red thread between a boy and a girl to make them a couple, even before they were born. Therefore, youth would like to do a worship ceremony on the festival day to wish the Yue-Laor could arrange the best marriage partners for them. Girls may also beg Chang-E to make them also so beautiful.
Another Chinese Valentine Day Obviously, the moon became the witness of many love stories. So there are countless poems and stories about the moon. When a lover asks another about “How much do you love?”, the other may answer “The moon knows about it”. When a person had some affair with another person, she/he may excused her/himself saying that, “it was the moon that made me fall in love with you.”
Many poets wrote a lot of poems with the moon as the subject to express their various feelings, especially their nostalgia. More especially under the brightest moon, if a Chinese person cannot go home to have a family union to celebrate the festival, she/he would be very homesick. She/he would sit under the same moon and lift a cup of wine, inviting the moon, toast towards to remote parents, friends, and all beloved ones. Wish all healthy, love each other forever, though they are separated by mountains and/or seas.
水调歌头 (Famous Poem about the Moon)苏轼明月几时有，把究问青天。不知天上宫阙，今昔是何年。 我欲乘风归去，又恐琼楼玉宇，高处不胜寒。 起舞弄清影，何似在人间。 When will the moon be clear and bright? With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the azure sky I don't know what season it would be In the heavens on this night I'd like to ride the wind to fly home Yet I fear the crystal and jade mansions are Much too high and cold for me Dancing with my moon-lit shadow It does not seem like the human world.
转朱阁，低绮户，照无眠。不应有恨，何时常向别时圆。转朱阁，低绮户，照无眠。不应有恨，何时常向别时圆。 人有悲欢离合，月有阴晴圆缺，此事古难全。 但愿人长久，千里共婵娟。 The moon rounds the red mansion Stoops to silk-pad doors Shines upon the sleepless Bearing no grudge Why does the moon tend to be full when people are apart? People may have sorrow or joy, be near or far apart The moon may be dim or bright, wax or wane This has been going on since the beginning of time May we all be blessed with longevity Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.- Poem written during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1076Y? by Su Tung Po (Translated by Shun-Yi Lee in 1998)
Riddle Guessing Game A traditional activity around the Mid-August Festival. The pleasant season makes it a perfect outdoor activity, better than on the Lantern Festival in February. 寺上有一牛， 二人抬木头， 门下张开口，家中有女守？ （Four Chinese Words） 言边主下月，二人土上蹲。 (Two Chinese Words) 夕下又一夕，射言表表心！ (Two Chinese Words) (A Chinese word)