Monday, 24 September 2007

Moon Festival

The Chinese Moon Festival is always on the 15th day of the 8th month by the Chinese lunar calendar. This year it will be celebrated on September, 25th. It's also known as the Mid-autumn Festival. Similar to Thanksgiving and celebrating the harvest time, the Moon Festival is an occasion to celebrate with family and friends. It is full of legendary stories.

Children are told the story of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, who comes out to dance on the moon's surface on the night of the Moon Festival. It is the legend about lady Chang Er who flew to the moon.

The legend behind the moon cakes says that during the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (960-1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule and set how to coordinate the rebellion without being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Backed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Today, moon cakes are used as gifts to relatives in expression of their best wishes. But also companies give away beautiful boxes with single wrapped moon cakes to show their appreciations to employees and business partners. In Beijing every hotel sells its own moon cake creations with various fillings (see picture above). Some people refer the especially bad traffic before the Moon Festival to moon cakes drives back and forward.

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 while watching the full moon. 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. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.

About Chinese Culture
Beijing This Month (photo from this free monthly English magazine)


Princess Haiku said...

This is a beautiful description of Moon festival. I once lived in a shared apartment with a student who shared a moon cake with everyone. It was delicious and encourages one to visit the night sky.

-Suzie- said...

Welcome back Princess!
You were lucky to have had a mooncake that tasted delicious! Most of them don't ;-)
However it is a tradition.
So people buy them although the taste is questionable and the price of one (around 20 RMB) is equal to one big bag of vegetables or up to 2 hours salary.


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