Celebrating the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival

On the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, the moon is round and the Chinese people mark their Moon (or Mid-autumn) Festival. This year it falls on September 11 on the western calendar. In honor of the festival, here are some card, poems and some brief legends.

Cranes Dancing to Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival

With tender affection and caring,
Sending sincere, kind blessings.
We’re thousands of miles away,
Wishing you perfect harmony.
The Truth comes from afar—
Hoping you understand Truth.
We wish you good fortune and health.

Poetic Blessings for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Clouds gather in the sky,
The moon sings a song of the Motherland.
We bring a word of greeting—
How Have You Been?
Hoping you understand the Truth,
Wishing you good health.

The Mid-Autumn Moon
by Li Qiao

A full moon hangs high in the chilly sky,
All say it's the same everywhere, round and bright.
But how can one be sure thousands of li away
Wind and perhaps rain may not be marring the night?

The Yo-Mei Mountain Moon
by Li Bai

The autumn moon is half round above the Yo-mei Mountain;
The pale light falls in and flows with the water of the Ping-chiang River.
Tonight I leave Ching-chi of limpid stream for the three Canyons.
And glide down past Yu-chow, thinking of you whom I can not see.

Song Dynasty Style
By Su Dong Po

A fragment moon hangs from the bare tung tree
The water clock runs out, all is still
Who sees the dim figure come and go alone
Misty, indistinct, the shadow of a lone wild goose?

Startled, she gets up, looks back
With longing no one sees
And will not settle on any of the cold branches
Along the chill and lonely beach

Autumn/Moon Festival Legends:

1) The Lady - Chang Er

The date of this story is around 2170 B.C. The earth once had ten suns circling over it and each took its turn to illuminate the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong but tyrannical archer, Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However his beautiful wife, Chang Er, drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he didn't shoot down the moon.

2) The Man - Wu Gang

Wu Gang was a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time. One day he decided that he wanted to be an immortal. Wu Gang then went to live in the mountains where he importuned an immortal to teach him. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness, but after three days his characteristic restlessness returned and he asked the immortal to teach him something else. So the immortal began to teach him chess (Wei Qi), but after a short while Wu Gang's enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Gang was given the books of immortality to study. Of course, Wu Gang became bored within a few days, and asked if they could travel to some new and exciting place. Angered with Wu Gang's impatience, the master banished Wu Gang to the Moon Palace telling him that he must cut down a huge cassia tree before he could return to earth. Though Wu Gang chopped day and night, the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and thus he is up there still chopping.

3) The Hare - Jade Rabbit

In this legend, three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."

4) The Cake - Moon Cake

During the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D.960-1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule and set about trying to coordinate a rebellion without it’s being discovered. They knew that the Moon Festival was drawing near, so they ordered the making of special cakes. Baked into each moon cake was a message with an outline of the plan of attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

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