Every year on the lunar calendar, on the fifteenth day on the eighth month, the moon is very large, round, and at an unusally yellow color, marks the Mid-Autumn Festival, or as some people may know it as, the Moon Festival. For the Chinese, the round shape of the moon represents a family reunion, therefore, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday for the family to come together whenever it is possible for them to. On this day, sons and daughter will bring family members to the parents' house for a reunion. For the families that are overseas, they will also come back to visit their parents.
As every Chinese festival comes along, there is always something good to eat to make that particular day even more enjoyable. At the Mid-Autumn Festival, people often eat moon cakes. A moon cake is in the shape of a moon, inside, there is lotus paste and preserved egg yolk. It may not sound that good, but trust me, it is good! Inside a moon cake, there are a number of preserved egg yolks, the numbers can range from one to four. There are also a variety of fillings, lotus paste often is the main filling, but there are also other flavours. As you can see on the pictures shown, there are Chinese words on the moon cake, usually, it would say Mid-Autumn Festival. Every year, one month before the Mid-Autumn Festival, fresh moon cakes can be purchased before the actual festival.
For a box of moon cakes, prices vary depending on the type purchased and how preserved egg yolk there are inside a moon cake. For a box of moon cakes, they start at $20. Prices can range all the way to $40 or more. There are four main flavours. They are:
No one story has the exact details about the Chang E legend, there are many different stories, with each story that has a similar plot. I will tell you the story that I was taught when I was in Elementary. The story goes something like this:
Long, long time ago in China, there were ten very hot suns, blazing over the Earth. It was known to the people that with the number of shining suns, there were also beasts that would destroy the Chinese population. There was a person who was considered to be a hero, his name was Hou Yi. Hou Yi was strong and powerful, he even knew how to do archery. With his talented skill, he shot down nine suns with only one sun left (This is the reason why the Chinese think there is only one sun due to this legend told). Not only did Hou Yi shoot down the nine suns, he killed the beasts. Everyone in China was very happy and they lived on with a wonderful life.
Soon after Hou Yi's bravery was known to China, they chose him to be the King. Soon after Hou Yi was crowned the King, his character became very bad. He began to repress the people of China. Soon after this event had happened, he hoped that he would have immortality within himself, therefore, he asked a very clever man to make a medicine that would not let him die so he will forever be the King of China. Hou Yi had lovely a wife named Chang E, she saw how cruel that he has become. She thought that if he was to eat the medicine, Hou Yi would live forever and be the King forever, then the population of China would forever suffer with Hou Yi's repression. There would be absolutely be no way out of not having Hou Yi to step down from being the King. With this thinking, Chang E's ate the medicine so that China'a population would not have to suffer so much.
It may sound odd to hear that someone ate the medicine where they would live forever. After Chang E ate the medicine, her body was slowly becoming lighter and lighter, lifting her body up. Without any force that was used, she was slowly drifting higher and higher, all the way up to the moon. After she was on the moon, she lived in the Moon Palace.
Chang E was a beautiful girl who worked in the Jade Emperor's palace in Heaven. This is where immortals, good people and fairies would all live. Then one day, Chang E had accidentally broke on of the precious porcelain jar in the Palace, therefore, the angry Emperor sent her to Earth, saying that she could return back to Heaven if she contributed to do something valuable on Earth.
When Chang E was sent to Earth, she was disguised as an eighteen year old girl, who lived with a poor family. Hou Yi, a young hunter, had spotted her, and they both later became friends.
One day, ten suns rose in the sky instead of the usual one, blazing hotly over the Earth. Hou Yi was good at archery, so he stepped up to save the Earth. He shot down nine suns, and instantly became a hero to everybody. Eventually, he became the King and married Chang E.
Not long after Hou Yi became the King, his attitude changed, he became very mean. He wanted a medicine that would allow him to prolong his life. The medicine was almost ready until Chang E saw it. It was known that Chang EE had either accidentally of purposely swallowed the medicine. This angered Hou Yi, so he went after his wife. Chang E tried to flee, so she jumped out of the window. Instead of falling, she slowly began to float towards the moon.
Hou Yi tried to shoot her down with arrows, but he was unsuccessful. Once Chang E was on the moon, Queen Mother turned her into a three-legged toad, with companion of a rabbit who was consistantly pounding the medicine of immortality into a large mortar. This according to one of the many versions of the legend.
Though Hou Yi was angered by what Chang E had done, he built a palace on the sun. Therefore Chang E and Hou Yi would represent the yin and yang, the moon and the sun.
In the ancient Asian Mythology, it was known that the moon and the water had a strong relationship. The moon was said to regulate seserviors and supply the water. The moon's role during the harvesting is greatly recognized during Autumn all around the world.
In the Chinese celestial cosmology, the moon represents the female, also known as yin. Suring the ancient Mid-Autumn Festival, women took center stage because it was considered feminine. Usually, there would only be women that would take part in the Moon Festival on the night when there was a full moon. When the full moon appeared in the dark sky, the women would offer incense, candles, fruit, flowers, and moon cakes.