Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival 中秋节
Story - Chang E Flying to the Moon
In ancient Chinese mythology, Chang’e was the wife of Houyi.
According to the popular Mid-Autumn Festival story, ten suns were shining in the sky in ancient times. The crop was drying, and people suffered a lot. There was a powerful archer named Hou Yi, who was determined to relieve this suffering. He climbed to the top of Kunlun Mountain, took full strength to pull the bow with all his strength and shot down nine suns. He has an agreement with the last Sun in the sky: "From now on, you will rise and set on time every day and must benefit the people!"
Hou Yi Got the Elixir
The Empress Dowager (Queen of Heaven) living in the Kunlun Mountains heard about Houyi's brilliant feat and awarded him an elixir of immortality. People who take this elixir can ascend to heaven and become immortals. However, Hou Yi was unwilling to leave his wife Chang E alone in the world, so he entrusted the elixir of life to her for safekeeping.
Chang E Flying to the Moon
Legend has it that when Hou Yi was out at a hunting event, Chang E stole the elixir and swallowed it on purpose. Leaving her husband Hou Yi behind, she flew to the moon palace on her own. Since then, Chang E, a beautiful but selfish lady, has been living on the Moon with an ugly toad as a punishment for stealing the elixir.
Hou Yi Offering Sacrifice to Chang E on Every 15th Day in the 8th Lunar Month
When Hou Yi returned home, he found his wife had flown to the moon. To commemorate his wife, Hou Yi prepared her favourite food, flowers and cakes to worship the moon on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, hoping to reunite with Chang E.
The folks love the kind-hearted Hou Yi very much. The community also placed sacrifices and blessed Chang'e from a distance. Since then, August 15th, the day when Chang E flew to the moon and parted with her beloved husband, has become the Mid-Autumn Festival in celebration for people to reunite.
The 15th day of the eighth lunar month is the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. During the festival, it is the custom for the Chinese people to enjoy buying each other round shape mooncakes as a blessing for family reunions. Also, according to traditional custom, the Chinese people hold a family reunion meal under the moon and enjoy fruits, nuts, tea and moon cakes. The family is seen relaxing and gathering together, talking under the cool autumn night. The festival atmosphere is filled with happiness for the bumper harvest and family gatherings.
The moon cake is round, symbolizing reunion. It is sometimes called “Reunion Cake”. The Chinese moon cake has many varieties, and production methods differ from area to area. There are sweet, salty, meat and vegetable fillings. The moon cakes are carved with various patterns and words.
Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated across the world.
Nowadays, Mid-Autumn Festival has become a ‘Respect the Elderly Day’. Chinese people want to buy Moon cakes for their parents, elderly relatives and friends to show their respect. The young British-born Chinese happily carry on this family's traditional customs.
Manchester Chinese supermarkets display Moon Cakes, and Chinese people buy Moon Cakes for the elderly to show their respect, but Moon Cakes can be very costly. It can cost about £35- £50 for a box of 4 small cakes. Recently, the Chinese community started selling locally made Moon Cakes online, and people can order to deliver to family and friends. It is very convenient.
Chinese Opera Performers Hong Ling &Ben Li
Chinese Opera Performers
Learning about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
Celebration Mid-Autumn Festival at Manchester University Museum - 2011
In Chinatown, the Chinese community organised a party for the elderly Chinese. Those who attended the party enjoyed an exceptional Chinese Opera Art Performance and were also introduced to Chinese Calligraphy, Mooncake-Making and Chinese Tea.
When celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival at MCC, we teach children how to show respect for their teachers, parents and friends. They wrapped up the Moon cake, fruit and nuts to present to their teachers and said, “Xièxiè lǎoshī (Thank you, teacher)!”