Culture - Chinese

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 38101 [post_author] => 1006 [post_date] => 2015-09-07 09:30:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-06 23:30:57 [post_content] =>

Ever wondered why the Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival?

The tradition of celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival goes back to the Shang Dynasty that ruled ancient China during 1600–1046 BC. Ancient Chinese rulers worshipped the moon in autumn as they believed that the practice would bring their kingdoms peace and a generous harvest the coming year. Food was very important in keeping the people happy, and a good harvest means a happy populace, which in turn guarantees their reign for another year.

But how such traditions and festivals are passed down from generation to generation is through the telling of folktales to enthral the youth and impress upon them to pass it onto their next of kin. And the Chinese have their own legend behind the Moon Festival.

Chang E - Why is moon festival celebrated

Image: Kien Wai E used under the Creative Commons Licence

There are plenty of folklore but the most popular one is that of the Moon Goddess Chang E.

According to legend, the earth had ten suns and the scorching heat was unbearable for living beings. A warrior named Hou Yi saved everyone by shooting down nine suns out of the ten. Hou Yi was celebrated across the kingdom and people from lands far and wide came to congratulate him. Amongst these visitors was a man named Peng Meng. After his feat, Hou Yi went on to marry a beautiful lady named Chang E.

The Secret Elixir

One day, Hou Yi was going to see a friend and on the way, he came upon Wagmu, the queen of heaven. She offered him an elixir, which when consumed would turn him into an immortal and ascend him to heaven. Hou Yi loved this wife so much that he didn’t want to leave her and hence didn't drink the potion so he gave it to Chang E for safekeeping.

What made Change E drink the Elixir?

Unfortunately, Peng Meng saw this and after a few days went to Hou Yi’s house to steal the elixir. Chang E realised that she wouldn't be able to keep it away from Peng Meng, so she drank the potion. Gaining immortality, she began to ascend to heaven, and flew out of the window, into the sky. But her love for her husband drew her towards the moon, which is considered to be the closest place in heaven to earth.

How Chang E appeared on the Moon?

Days passed, and one fine day when Hou Yi was looking at the moon, he saw a figure which looked just like Chang E. He took all of her favourite food and offered it at an altar. When the locals learned the story of Chang  E, they started worshipping her as the Moon Goddess by offering sacrifices to the moon. Ever since then moon festival has been celebrated with reverence to the Moon Goddess.

It is believed that on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar each year, Hou Yi and Chang E meet somewhere between the earth and the moon to commemorate their love. And this is a symbol of reunion that is by and large practised even to this day among many Southeast Asian families.

Moon goddess - Why is The Moon Festival Celebrated

Image courtesy of Royalty-free Google images

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Why is The Chinese Moon Festival Celebrated?

Ever wondered why the Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival?

The tradition of celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival goes back to the Shang Dynasty that ruled ancient China during 1600–1046 BC. Ancient Chinese rulers worshipped the moon in autumn as they believed that the practice would bring their kingdoms peace and a generous harvest the coming year. Food was very important in keeping the people happy, and a good harvest means a happy populace, which in turn guarantees their reign for another year.

But how such traditions and festivals are passed down from generation to generation is through the telling of folktales to enthral the youth and impress upon them to pass it onto their next of kin. And the Chinese have their own legend behind the Moon Festival.

Chang E - Why is moon festival celebrated

Image: Kien Wai E used under the Creative Commons Licence

There are plenty of folklore but the most popular one is that of the Moon Goddess Chang E.

According to legend, the earth had ten suns and the scorching heat was unbearable for living beings. A warrior named Hou Yi saved everyone by shooting down nine suns out of the ten. Hou Yi was celebrated across the kingdom and people from lands far and wide came to congratulate him. Amongst these visitors was a man named Peng Meng. After his feat, Hou Yi went on to marry a beautiful lady named Chang E.

The Secret Elixir

One day, Hou Yi was going to see a friend and on the way, he came upon Wagmu, the queen of heaven. She offered him an elixir, which when consumed would turn him into an immortal and ascend him to heaven. Hou Yi loved this wife so much that he didn’t want to leave her and hence didn’t drink the potion so he gave it to Chang E for safekeeping.

What made Change E drink the Elixir?

Unfortunately, Peng Meng saw this and after a few days went to Hou Yi’s house to steal the elixir. Chang E realised that she wouldn’t be able to keep it away from Peng Meng, so she drank the potion. Gaining immortality, she began to ascend to heaven, and flew out of the window, into the sky. But her love for her husband drew her towards the moon, which is considered to be the closest place in heaven to earth.

How Chang E appeared on the Moon?

Days passed, and one fine day when Hou Yi was looking at the moon, he saw a figure which looked just like Chang E. He took all of her favourite food and offered it at an altar. When the locals learned the story of Chang  E, they started worshipping her as the Moon Goddess by offering sacrifices to the moon. Ever since then moon festival has been celebrated with reverence to the Moon Goddess.

It is believed that on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar each year, Hou Yi and Chang E meet somewhere between the earth and the moon to commemorate their love. And this is a symbol of reunion that is by and large practised even to this day among many Southeast Asian families.

Moon goddess - Why is The Moon Festival Celebrated

Image courtesy of Royalty-free Google images

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