The Moon Festival
The Moon Festival, otherwise known as the Mid Autumn Festival is the 2nd most celebrated event in the Chinese calendar (after the Chinese New Year.) It is held on the night of a full moon—which falls on a day between September 8 and October 7. In 2017 it will be held on the 4th October.
How it came about
The ancient Chinese saw that the movement of the moon had a close relationship with changes of the seasons and agricultural production and so to celebrate the harvest, they offered a sacrifice to the moon on autumn days.
The Moon Cake is the special food of the Moon Festival. They are round, symbolizing the reunion of a family, and on the Festival day, family members get together to appreciate the bright full moon, eat moon cakes, and think of family members and friends who live far away. Moon cakes are given to relatives and friends to wish them a long and happy life.
The legend of Chang E
There are many variations on the legend but here are the basics.
Chang E was a beautiful young girl working in the Jade Emperor’s palace in heaven, where immortals, good people and fairies lived. One day, she accidentally broke a precious porcelain jar. The Jade Emperor was angry and banished her to live on earth, where ordinary people lived. When she was 18, a young hunter named Hou Yi spotted her, and they became friends.
One day 10 suns arose in the sky instead of one, blazing the earth. Hou Yi, an expert archer, successfully shot down nine of the suns, becoming an instant hero. He eventually became king and married Chang E.
But over time Hou Yi became a tyrant. He ordered that a potion be made to make him immortal. The potion in the form of a single pill was almost ready when Chang E came upon it. She swallowed the pill. King Hou Yi was angry. Trying to get away, she jumped out of a window in the palace — and, instead of falling, she floated into the sky toward the moon where she lives to this day.