Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that falls on September 12, 2011. The Chinese name for the festival is Zhong Qiu Jie (中秋节). The festival is marked every year on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar.
People around the world celebrate the holiday by exchanging mooncakes and recounting tales of immortals, longevity pills, 10 suns, Hou Yi, and Chang’e and her rabbit. The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is also known for poetry about the moon, particularly by Li Bai and Su Dong Po.
The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is a time for family and friends to look up at the moon and reflect on our place in the world in relation to each other as we all focus on the same object: the Moon.
It’s said that in the old old days, the earth once had ten suns circling over it. Each day the suns’ mother took one sun to illuminate the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The Emperor of Heaven ordered a strong archer Hou Yi to save the earth. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess.
However his beautiful wife Chang Er drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband’s tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he didn’t shoot down the moon.
Another version of the story is that Hou Yi built a beautiful jade palace for the Goddess of the Western Heaven. The Goddess was very happy and she gave Hou Yi a special pill that contained elixir of life and he could use it after he had accomplished certain things. However, Chang Er took it without telling her husband. The Goddess of the Western Heaven was very angry and Chang Er was sent to the moon forever.