On the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, individuals of Chinese descent throughout the globe will be celebrating the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival. It is the third major celebration on the Chinese lunisolar calendar which incorporates elements of both a lunar calendar and solar calendar, which is not uncommon among Asian cultures. This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival took place on the 29th of September. As it has always been in Malaysia, the festival was celebrated with merriment and involved the incorporation of lanterns, mooncakes, and the involvement of people from other cultural backgrounds as well. In conjunction with this year’s celebration, this article will explore the history, origins and customs associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally related to moon-worship although its exact origins are lost to legends. However, researchers have been able to identify three possible legends relating to the festival. The most prominent is the Chinese myth of “Chang'e and Hou Yi”. As with all myths, there is more than one version of it. But the fundamentals of the story remain relatively similar. The story goes that hundreds of centuries ago, there were ten suns in the sky. The heat emitting from these suns were too much for life on Earth to bear. But one day, a warrior called Hau Yi was able to destroy nine of the suns due to his formidable skill in archery. The people across the land were grateful and the Queen of Heaven rewarded Hau Yi with an elixir capable of granting an individual immortality. Unwilling to become immortal and have to leave his wife, Chang’e, Hau Yi asked her to keep the elixir safe. Now a hero across the nation, Hau Yi became a teacher to many men. Unfortunately, one of his students, Feng Meng, intended to steal the Elixir of Immortality. In an desperate attempt to prevent the elixir from falling into the wrong hands, Chang’e decided to drink the elixir. This...
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