Trace back to the history of Moon Festival

Moon Festival is an annual festival that is the second most important to Chinese people, following the Chinese New Year Festival. Symbols of this festival are ‘moon cake’ and a legend of ‘Chang’e goddess gliding to the moon’ that Chinese people have been telling from generation to generation. Anyone who wants to listen to this legend, come a little closer and carefully listen to the story that ACU PAY will tell you.

Moon Festival

This festival is on the 15th day of the waxing moon, 8th lunar month or Full moon day of the 8th month according to the lunar calendar of every year. This year, the Moon Festival is on Friday 29th September, 2023. The festival falls in September or October in mid-autumn to celebrate the harvest, so the Chinese call it Zhongqiu, which means mid-autumn. It is a tradition that the Chinese have been following for thousands of years.

In this festival, Chinese people celebrate by worshiping the moon at night. In some countries, such as Singapore or Vietnam, it is a big tradition that is celebrated with red lanterns to add colors at night, or in some places, there may be a dragon dance as well. The festival also has a long-standing legend of the Chang’e goddess flying to the moon and a rabbit on the moon.

The birth of Moon Goddess: Chang'e goddess flying to the moon

Let’s start with the first legend about the Moon Festival. It is said that …In the old days, there were ten suns on our earth, causing disasters to the earth, the land was hot and dry, and people had no place to hide.

Later, the hero name Hou yi, who was skilled in archery, used only one arrow to shoot at nine suns until only one was left, making him become a king. But when Hou Yi became king, he was obsessed with power, liquor, and women. He killed people at will, making the people angry and hated him the most.

When Hou Yi knew it, he went to Kunlun Mountain to ask goddess Wang Mu for Elixir medicine, but Chang’e, the wife, feared that if her husband had lived a long time, it might bring trouble to the people. So, she decided to steal that Elixir medicine and take the medicine herself. 

After drinking the medicine, Chang’e body floated to the moon. Since then, on the moon,  the body of a goddess believed to be Chang’e appears every 15th lunar month. The villagers then held a Moon Festival to pay their respects to Chang’e, who helped keep the villagers happy and peaceful.

The legend of a rabbit on the moon

There is another legend about the rabbit on the moon. It tells that there is a rabbit living on the moon. The rabbit is responsible for making Elixir medicine for Chang’e, a goddess of the moon. Some say that the rabbit is making moon cake (A Japanese legend says the rabbit is kneading to make mochi.)

One day, a great cholera epidemic broke out in Beijing. Chang’e goddess then sends the rabbit to help treat villagers. The villagers were grateful for the help. After successfully curing the villagers and eradicating the disease, the rabbit returned to the moon. Since then, the villagers have worshiped the rabbit god and it has become a tradition in the moon festival as well.

Moon cake

The thing that can’t be missed in the Moon Festival is the moon cake which is an offering to the moon goddess. Chinese people call it ‘yuebing’ which means perfection and fulfillment.

Traditional Chinese moon cake consists of red beans, 5 Chinese nuts and lotus seeds. The filling must have a sweet taste or be stuffed with sweet gains only. Later, the tradition spread to a variety of places, so there were more changes in taste and style.

What do Chinese people do at the Moon Festival?

It is the night that the moon will be the biggest and most beautifully illuminated in the year. The Chinese authorities have designated this festival a long holiday. Chinese people who work in other provinces are therefore looking forward to taking this opportunity to come back to their hometown and spend time with their families. Those who do not return home will take this opportunity to rest or spend time with friends. 

During the festival, people will gather for dinner, see the beauty of the moon, and enjoy ‘moon cakes’ that symbolize family happiness and harmony. Traditionally, when eating mooncakes, they have to be cut into pieces the same size equal to the number of family members. 

In addition, on the night of the moon festival’s night, some areas will pray to the moon. Usually, a table is set up from early evening when the moon appears in the sky until around 10 – 11 p.m., and lanterns are lit to add colors as well.

Related Articles