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Archive for September, 2010

MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL

Tomorrow is 22nd September and chinese the world over will be celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival or better known to most as Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival to the younger generation;  (traditional Chinese: 中秋節), is a popular harvest festival celebrated not only by Chinese but Korean, and Vietnamese people.

Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated every year on the 15th day on the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It is a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest.This year happened to fall on the 22nd September, Wednesday. To many, this is the day the family gather to eat mooncakes and kids will play with lantern. I’m not too crazy about eating mooncakes because they are so very sweet. There are many variety offered to cater to every taste. Mocha flavor, green tea, durian etc. You name it, they’ll create it. How did this festival comes about ?

During the early years of the Qin rule, chinese people practice praying to the sun in spring and moon in autumn. The Mid-Autumn Festival derived from the tradition of worshipping the moon. The forefathers believed that the harvest depended on the Moon Goddess. Without her showers of rain and constant changes to reflect the season s, it would be impossible to have a bumper harvest. The rites and rituals for moon worship were usually done on a grand scale.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the few most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the others being Chinese New Year and Winter Solstice, and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as  putting pomelo rinds on one’s head ; carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns ; burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e (Chinese: 嫦娥 ); planting Mid-Autumn trees; collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members and etc.

The ancient believed that the sun was yang and the moon was yin. Hence, the deity that lived in the moon had to be a female fairy. Every culture all over the world have their own myth and legend regarding the moon. For the chinese it’s the tale of Chang-e flying to the moon that has been circulated since the Han Dynasty and she has been associated with the moon ever since. Below is a concise version.

The Legend of Chang-e

Once there appears to have 10 suns in the sky causing people to suffer. The divine archer Hou Yi shot down 9 of them and was banished to earth with his wife Chang-e to live as mortals. Later, Hou Yi acquired an elixir of immortality, but as he had changed for the worse after living on earth, Chang-e drank the potion and flew to the moon alone.

For a more on the legend read here.

So how did mooncake becomes part of the celebration ?

Legend has it that it originated towards the end of the Song Dynasty when the Mongols invaded China. The common folk suffered under their rule and hence planned to revolt. To keep their plans from being discovered, the hid messages in round cakes which were sent to every family. On the 15th night of the 8th month, the people rose up in revolt and killed the Mopngol invaders as they slept. Mooncakes are eaten on this day every year to commemorate this event. The round mooncakes of the past have since evolved into the present-day mooncakes with fillings. Mooncakes are round, symbolising reunion and completeness. Therefore, eating mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival represents the family’s togetherness and living in sweet harmony.

As to how lantern are associated with Mid-Autumn Festival, I am still not sure. Since I can’t find any reference to it accept that it’s part of the custom or ritual to light lantern and float sky lanterns. Normally, children are the one most happy, parading their lanterns.

Whatever the case, enjoy your mooncake. Psss…. try not to buy mooncakes that overdo on packaging. As we enjoy this day, please remember that reducing our over indulgence on unneccesary packaging can slowdown the process of turning our earth into a garbage minefield. Go for minimalist packaging and you can still enjoy the festival. Whatever the day, festival it maybe, practice your 3R – Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

HAVE A WONDERFUL MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL.

green bitch/witch


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