Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, Chinese Culture, From Lina | comments Comments (6)

Tomorrow will be the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated in most Asian countries. It is probably the second grandest one after the Spring Festival in China. It is always held on lunar August 15th, close to the middle of the autumn, so called Mid-Autumn.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival, as at that time of the year, the moon is at its fullest and brightest. On that day, family reunions to appreciate the moon and eat moon cakes together, hence it is called Festival of Reunion.

The day is also considered a harvest festival, since it falls in between late September to early October based on the western calendar, a cool and perfect time to celebrate the harvest which has just concluded.

There are a number of folklores and legends regarding to the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival, but the most widely accepted tale is the story of Hou Yi and Chang E.

It is said that in ancient times there were ten suns coexisting in the sky, blazing the earth, drying rivers and lakes, scorching all crops and driving people to starvation.

To save the world from misery, a great archer named Hou Yi ascended to the top of the Kunlun Mountain and shot down nine superfluous suns. Hou Yi’s extraordinary deeds won the love and respect of the populace. People came from far and wide to learn from him, including Peng Meng, an evil man.

Chinese Traditional Festival: Mid-Autumn Festival

Also because of his heroic feat, Hou Yi was rewarded with an elixir of immortality, by taking which, it was said, one would ascend immediately to heaven and become a celestial being.

Unwilling to leave his wife, a beautiful girl name Chang E, Hou Yi handed the elixir to Chang E. Chang E hid the parcel in a treasure box at her dresser when, unexpectedly, it was seen by Peng Meng.

One day when Hou Yi was out for hunting, Peng Meng, sword in hand, broke into Chang E’s room and forced her to hand over the elixir. Aware that she was unable to defeat Peng Meng, Chang E turned round, took up the elixir and swallowed it in one gulp. As soon as she swallowed the elixir, Chang E started to float into the sky toward the Moon.

After returning home at night and learning what had happened, Hou Yi was so grief stricken that he called out the name of his beloved wife. To his surprise, he found that the moon was especially clear and bright and on it there was a swaying silhouette similar to that of his wife.

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: Zhong Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: Qiu Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: Jie
Chinese Traditional Festival: Mid-Autumn Festival

Thinking of his wife, Hou Yi placed an incense table in the back garden and put Chang E’s favorite fresh fruits onto the table. By doing so, Hou Yi held at a distance a memorial ceremony for his beloved wife now being separated from him.

Informed of the news, other common people followed Hou Yi’s suit, praying kindhearted Chang and courageous Hou Yi would reunion someday. From then on, the custom of worshiping the moon and anticipating for a family reunion on the mid-autumn day has been widespread.

[ad name=”ad-Chinese1″]

Related posts:
Traditional Chinese festival series: Dragon Boat Festival


  1. 1
    Shannon // September 18th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Lina, I have really been enjoying your blog. I like your philosophy of making language learning fun. Thanks for sharing your many ideas! I’m a new grandmother and have been speaking Cantonese to my granddaughter. Right now it’s just baby talk but old nursery rhymes and songs are all coming back to me. I’m having fun refreshing my memory on many poems and songs. I hope to convey my love of the Chinese language and culture to my granddaughter. I think you are doing a most wonderful job of raising your little ones. I especially love the song “Only Mom is the Best in the World.” I hope to teach my granddaughter so that she can sing to her Mom some day! Keep up the great work, Lina!

  2. 2
    Lina // September 19th, 2013 at 11:09 am

    @Shannon: Thank you so much for stopping by! I didn’t realize the beauty and sweetness of nursery rhymes and children’s songs unti I sang them to my children. They love the tune and they can quickly remember the words before they understand the meanings of the songs. The songs and nursery rhymes also bring back old memories from my childhood. I love to see my children enjoy them and eager to learn them. Yes, I will keep this blog and share my pleasure and resources with everybody!

  3. 3
    Reshama // September 20th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    That was a lovely review. I especially enjoyed watching the very informative video on the festival. I think this would be great to share along with the book. Wonderful companion guide. Thanks for sharing this post on Tina’s and looking forward to more!

  4. 4
    Lina // September 20th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    @Reshama: Thank you so much for stopping by! I will continue to work on the traditional Chinese festival series, and the next one will be Double Ninth Festival。 Stayed tuned!

  5. 5
    Mommynificent // September 26th, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Sorry I’m so late to pop over! This is a lovely post! Thanks for sharing it at Booknificent Thursday last week! Looking forward to seeing what you have to share with us this week!

  6. 6
    Lina // September 26th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    @Tina: I will definitely stop by. Thank you for leaving a lovely comment!

Leave a Comment