What is Mid-Autumn Festival?
Mid-Autumn Festival is known as the Zhong Qiu Jie, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The festival is celebrated when the moon is believed to be fullest. It is a time for family members and loved ones to congregate and enjoy the full moon - an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck.
The term "Mid-Autumn" first appeared in the book Rites of Zhou (周礼), written in the Warring States Period (475–221 BC). But the term only related to the time and season; the festival didn't exist at that point.
In the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), it was popular to appreciate the moon. Many poets liked to create poems related to the moon when appreciating it. There is a legend that Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty visited the Moon Palace in his dream and heard a wonderful song.
In the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD), the 15th day of the 8th lunar month was established as the "Mid-Autumn Festival". From then on, sacrificing to the moon was very popular, and has become a custom ever since.
Long ago, a powerful draught attacked the earth. The cause of this havoc was the ruthlessness of the ten burning suns. As plants were ripped away of food and water, so were the human inhabitants of the forsaken land. Enough was enough, so the Emperor of Heaven sent a young man named Hou Yi down to the earth. When he arrived, he took out his red bow and white arrows, and then struck nine of the suns with the unforgiving force of the gods. The land returned to normal, and it rained like never before. Life was flourishing; trees rose from the now rich soil, and the earth was saved.
Because of his heroic accomplishment, Hou Yi was greatly recognized and soon became a king. He then met a young woman named Chang E, and soon married her. One day, Hou Yi wanted immortality and went to seek something that would help him achieve this dream. He soon found it, an elixir. It was in the form of a single pill. Chang E soon found out about this pill her husband was about to take. It is believed that she either purposely, or accidently swallowed the pill. After swallowed it, she found herself floating and flew all the way to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he refused to shoot down the moon.
People believed that the lady was a god who lived in the moon that made the moon shine. Girls who wanted to be a beauty and have a handsome husband should worship the moon. And on this magical occasion, children who make wishes to the Lady on the Moon will find their dreams come true.
Mid-Autumn Day is a traditional festival in China. Extended families get together to see the moon while eating and sharing the moon cakes. These yummy treats symbolize reunion and happiness. In some regions, people put paper lanterns on display or release them into the evening sky. A saying goes, "The moon in your hometown is always the brightest and roundest". Many people who live far away from homes want to go back to have a family reunion. How happy it is to enjoy the moon cakes while watching the full moon with your family members.
Now the Mid-Autumn Festival is listed as an official holiday in China. Many people use this mini-holiday to visit family and friends.