Mid-Autumn Festival: a beautiful but sad legend

August 18, 2010 | Posted by Sarah

Chang'e, the beautiful heroine of the mid-autumn festival legend, flying towards the moon.

Falling on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, Mid-autumn Festival is also called the Moon Festival since it has a full moon on that night. It is a festival to celebrate harvest and family union. Eating moon cakes and enjoying watching the full bright moon together with the whole family has been a tradition since the birth of this festival. At the origin of this holiday there is a beautiful but sad legend.

Legend of the Mid-autumn Festival

Long long ago, there was a brave and strong man, called Houyi. He had a pretty wife, named Chang’e. They lived a happy and peaceful life together. But one day, when they woke up in the morning, they found there appeared 10 suns in the sky. It became very hot and many people, animals and plants died because of the strong sunshine, high temperature and lack of water. Houyi decided to do something to save the earth. So he picked up his bow and arrow, and shot nine suns down. After that, the weather became normal and livings were saved.

An immortal heard of this, he appreciated Houyi so much that he gave Houyi some medicine as reward. This medicine was said to be able to keep human alive forever. Houyi took the medicine home and let Chang'e keep it.

Unfortunately, a bad guy knew this and planned to steal the medicine. One day, when Houyi went out, he broke into Houyi's house and forced Chang'e to give him the magic medicine. Chang'e didn't want to give him but she had no other choice. Finally, Chang'e took out the medicine and ate it herself. After she took the medicine, she felt herself became very light and gradually flew up to the sky. She flew up and up, finally, she reached the moon and stayed there.

When Houyi came back, he was so sad about what happened. An immortal told him that Chang’e would live on the moon and could never come down. That day was just the 15th day the eighth lunar month. In the evening, Houyi watched the round full moon and missed Chang'e. He made Chang'e's favorite cakes in the shape of moon to show his love for her, which were moon cakes called today. From then on, every year, families gather together, watch the moon, eat moon cakes and tell the stories of Houyi and Chang'e, hence the Mid-autumn Festival.

Special food: Moon cakes

Moon cakes are small round cakes with a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling, which are eaten on the Mid-autumn Festival. Many moon cakes contain one or more whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. Every year when the Mid-autumn Festival is coming, all the supermarkets are filled with moon cakes. There are a variety of brands and tastes.

Although thousands of years has passed, the Mid-autumn Festival was passed down from generation to generation with the legend of Houyi and Chang'e. Chinese cherish this festival very much as it is a symbol of family reunion, just as the full moon in the evening.

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