中秋节 (zhōng qiū jié)

today is the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the chinese calendar, which is the “middle autumn festival”. it’s a day when families in china gather and eat traditional mooncakes by the full moon. i had never heard of it before, but the story is quite nice, and the mooncakes (like those 2 above, kindly offered by my company) are not that bad. :)
here is the tale that originated this holiday, according to wikipedia:


Houyi himself was an immortal, while Chang’e was a beautiful young girl, working in the Jade Emperor’s (Emperor of Heaven) Palace as the attendant to the Queen Mother of the West (wife of the Jade Emperor), just before her marriage. One day, Houyi aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, who then slandered him before the Jade Emperor. Houyi and his wife, Chang’e, were subsequently banished from heaven, and forced to live by hunting on earth. He became a famous archer.

Now at this time, there were 10 suns that took turns to circle the earth — one every 10 days. One day, all 10 of the suns circled together, causing the earth to burn. Emperor Yao, the Emperor of China, commanded Houyi to shoot down all but one of the suns. Upon the completion of his task, the Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that granted eternal life, and advised him: “Make no haste to swallow this pill; first prepare yourself with prayer and fasting for a year”. Houyi took the pill home and hid it under a rafter, while he began healing his spirit. While Houyi was healing his sprit, Houyi was summoned again by the emperor. Chang’e, noticing a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters, discovered the pill, which she swallowed. Immediately, she found that she could fly. At that moment, Houyi returned home, and, realizing what had happened, began to reprimand her. Chang’e flew out the window into the sky.

With bow in hand, Houyi sped after her, and the pursuit continued halfway across the heavens. Finally, Houyi had to return to the Earth because of the force of the wind. Chang’e reached the moon, and breathless, she coughed. Part of the pill fell out from her mouth. Now, the hare was already on the moon, and Chang’e commanded the animal to make another pill from it, so that she could return to earth to her husband.

As of today, the hare is still pounding herbs, trying to make the pill. As for Houyi, he built himself a palace in the sun as “Yang” (the male principle), with Chang’e as “Yin” (the female principle). Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Houyi visits his wife. That is why, that night, the moon is full and beautiful.

happy mid-autumn festival!


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