Chinese astronomy is fascinating in that it developed its own particular methods and nuances through the course of Chinese history. The Chinese were meticulous in keeping astronomical records, enabling modern historians to establish that Chinese astronomy remained largely unchanged from 1800 BC onwards. Astronomy was mostly viewed as something for royalty, and emperors employed astronomers to chart the heavens, their main purpose was to record time, something that they started to do with great accuracy. According to traditional Chinese culture, the moon is a carrier of human emotions.
There is also a saying in Chinese that marriages are made in heaven and prepared on the moon. The man who does the preparing is the old man of the moon (Yue Lao). This old man, it is said, keeps as a record book with all the names of newborn babies. He is the one heavenly person who knows everyone’s future partners and nobody can fight the decisions written down in his book. He is one reason why the moon is so important in Chinese mythology and especially at the time of the Moon Festival. Everybody hikes up high mountains or hills to view the moon, hoping that he will grant their wishes.
But rooted in the history and culture of China, is the most famous aspect of Chinese astronomy – the story of Chang E and her pet rabbit, who lived on the moon with a woodcutter. According to Chinese history, the moon is a carrier of human emotions. It is a symbol of gentleness and brightness, expressing the beautiful yearnings of the Chinese. On the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, the moon is full and it is time to mark the Moon Festival, in which the Chinese culture is deeply rooted. The moon’s round shape symbolizes family reunion. Therefore the day is a holiday for family members to get together and enjoy the full moon – an auspicious token of abundance, harmony, and luck.
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