I nearly forgot it was Mid-Autumn Festival yesterday (8th of September) – on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
I learned as a child that the moon on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month was the brightest. Scientifically I now know it may not be the truth.
Mid-Autumn Festival is my favourite festival of all Chinese festivals. The fullness of the moon reflects reunion on earth. It’s meant to be a day of family reunion. Traditionally it is an evening when mooncake and tea are shared with family, under the pure moonlight.
It’s a day appreciating your love for family, friends, and those who hold a special place in your heart.
Moon-gazing becomes a public activity on this day.
I’m not sure if there is an equivalent event in other cultures focusing on family reunion like the Mid-Autumn festival. Of course Christmas is a day for family reunion, but Christmas is essentially a religious festival.
With the full moon as backdrop, Mid-Autumn festival has also inspired poetry.
Traditionally we eat mooncake, snacks such as sunflower seeds and peanuts, and drinks lots of Chinese tea, as mooncake is greasy and fattening. Like Christmas pudding, you are meant to eat only a small piece of the mooncake, but many people forget that.
What I miss most is a citrus fruit called pomelo. I always enjoy pulling off the thick rind of pomelo and devour the pinky flesh. If you are careful and peel off the rind with skill, the whole connected rind looks impressive – like a little hat.
Did you gaze at the moon last night, sending love and affection through the moon to your loved ones? Did you miss someone?
The moon tonight is beautifully red. I read that the moon tonight is called the Supermoon, as the moon may appear 14% larger and 30% brighter as it comes closer than usual to the Earth.
Mid-autumn moon and myths
When you gazed at the moon, did you see a jade rabbit in the shadow?
The rabbit sacrified himself by jumping into the fire to become barbecued rabbit for his hermit friend. The Jade Emperor was so moved by his high moral that he promoted the jade rabbit to the moon palace.
I’m sure you also spotted the graceful fairy (immortal) named Chang’e in the shadow of the moon. She stole an elixir from her husband, the archer Hou Yi, who shot down 9 earth-scorching suns, and left one sun behind.
Apparently the mighty Hou Yi became arrogant and brutal and his wife wouldn’t trust her man to be an immortal emperor.
Chang’e then swallowed the elixir herself to become the graceful immortal being, a muse to many.
I’m sure in the moon, you also spotted a poor young man named Wu Gang, who tried chopping down the laurel tree, but somehow the tree healed itself and Wu Gang’s task was impossible.
Comparing cultural notes
Do you know of other moon-inspired myths or legends? Do you find any similarity in these Chinese myths in your culture?
I hope your evenings are blessed with the lustrous moonlight. Keep the sweetness of love with you always.