Happy Moon Festival! (and Grandfinal Weekend in Aus!)
Tomorrow is celebrated as the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival in China and Vietnam, which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest for the year. It’s traditionally a major occasion on the calendar, with thanks given for the harvest; plump, round moon cakes eaten in celebration, and lanterns lit to mirror the brightness of the moon.
There are many legends associated with the Moon Festival, including that of the moon goddess Chang er or Chang’e (which in pinyin looks exactly like the English word ‘change’). She represents the female nature, Yin. In ancient China, one legend has it that there were ten suns that burned so bright the land was being ravaged by drought and people were starving. Her husband, who represents the male Yang, was the brave archer Hou Yi who shot down the suns one by one, until Chang’e stopped him shooting the last one down, to stop the earth from dying.
Hou Yin became a hero and was crowned king. He was a good and kind ruler for a while, but gradually became harsh and despotic, much to the dismay of Chang’e. Hou Yi became obsessed with immortality and legend has it that Chang’e stole the elixir of life that had been given to her husband, before fleeing to the moon in an act of self-sacrifice. Hou Yi grieved for his wife and realised the error of his ways.
When they couple are reunited for the Moon Festival each year the moon shines bright with their love and energy, and balance is restored.
The chineseculture.about.com website paints a quixotic picture of the Moon Festival.
“Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving in the West, the Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese, an occasion for family reunions. The Moon Festival is also a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romantic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine. Even for a couple who can’t be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world.”
I don’t know about you, but the idea of balance in love, and families and lovers reunited seems well worth celebrating. Might just have me some wine (although might pass on the mooncake…not the nicest).