Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mid Autumn Festival - Summary

Mid Autumn Festival, or Mooncake Festival and Lantern Festival in some South East Asian countries, is one of the most important festivals in Chinese tradition. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Amongst the many legends and tales regarding the Chinese moon cake festival, Chang Er's Moon Escapade is the most widely known story. Here are some that we've heard from our parents and teachers when we were little.

Chang Er's Moon Escapade

It was believed that long ago in ancient China, there were 10 suns in the sky that caused no river flowing and no crops growing. Hou Yi, a legendary hero who had incredible strength and great archery skill, shot down 9 of the hot burning suns. The remaining sun was ordered to rise and set daily, to benefit human being.

Hou Yi, became the leader of the nation, and married Chang Er - who was believed to be a great beauty. However, Hou Yi became a violent leader and was cruel to his people. He then obtained an elixir that was promised to give him eternity life. Chang Er, with a heart of gold, worried that the elixir was going to make the public suffer eternally, had decided to get rid of the elixir.

However, her stealing act was caught red-handed by Hou Yi. Out of a panic, she swallowed the elixir and found herself starting to float in the air, whilst running away from Hou Yi's hunt. Chang Er continued to fly higher and higher, till she reached the moon, and spent the rest of her eternal life on the cold, lonely moon.

Another version of the twist was, Hou Yi's follower Feng Meng had tried to make Chang Er surrender the elixir in Hou Yi?s absense. Refused to do so, she swallowed it and escaped to the moon. There are, of course, many other versions of the fairy tale, but these are the two that are most often told.

The poem titled 'Chang Er', written by Tang Dynasty Poet Li ShangYin, is one of the most popular poems written about the legend. Here is a translation that's closest to its orihinal meaning.


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