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China Mid-Autumn Festival

mooncakeMid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Lantern or Mooncake festival, falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar or roughly 25th September on the Western calendar. This is one of the more important festival for the Chinese around the world. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese all over the world celebrate by sitting down with friends and relatives to sip Chinese tea, eat moon-cakes, recite poems, listen to classical Chinese music and admire the full moon. (Check it out! It will be a full moon on 25th September this year). Chinese children will light and carry paper lanterns and play with sparklers and fireworks. How did this festival come about? Well, there are two popular theories on how did Mid-Autumn festival came about.

Shooting down Ten Suns

It is said that there was once when ten suns appeared at once in the sky. This caused tremendous suffering as the land was parched, crops failed and people were dying of thirst and hunger. The then Chinese Emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the nine extra suns being careful to leave the last sun behind. The archer easily completed the task with his bow and arrow and the Goddess of Western Heaven rewarded the archer with a pill that would make him immortal. However, his wife found the pill, took it, and was banished to the moon as a result. Legend says that her beauty is greatest on the day of the Moon festival and it is not uncommon for people to claim that they see her image during the full moon period of the month of the Mid-Autumn Festival. From then on, people would light lanterns on Mid-Autumn festival to remember the time when the earth was shone upon by 10 suns. So, on Mid-Autumn Festival, look carefully and see if you can make out the silhouette of a Chinese lady dancing in the moon!

Overthrowing the Mongol invaders 

mid autumn festivalAnother popular legend has it that the Chinese threw off their Mongol oppressors in 1368 AD during the Mid-Autumn Festival.China was invaded and in the hands of the Mongol during this period and the Mongols ruled China with a iron hand and the common Chinese people suffered tremendously during this period. The Chinese planned to rebel but had a hard time coming up with a comprehensive plan as the Mongols were very cruel and would punish the people easily if they even suspect a rebellion was being planned. It is said that mooncakes - which the Mongols did not eat - were the perfect vehicle for hiding and passing along plans for the rebellion. Families were instructed not to eat the mooncakes until the day of the moon festival, which is when the rebellion took place. On the day of the festival, the Chinese broke open the moon cake, read the instructions to raise a rebellion and together with a united voice and action, overthrew the Mongols on this fateful day. To remember this day when the Chinese overthrew the cruel Mongols, the Chinese in later generations would remember this day by eating Mooncakes whenever it is Mid-Autumn festival. Well, whatever the legend is, the Mid-Autumn festival is one where Chinese families around the world would get together and celebrate together. So, if you have a Chinese friend or neighbor, why not say a Happy "Zhong Chiu Jie" or Mid-Autumn festival to them!


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