Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

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Today we celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival - the second largest annual festival in China...

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second largest festival celebrated in China, after the Spring Festival. Each year the festival falls of the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and historically ancient emperors would offer sacrifices to the moon during the autumn.

Folklore has it that the origin of the festival was based on an ancient love story between a local hero named Hou Yi and his wife Chang E. Hou Yi was well respected in the community, as using his superhuman powers he managed to banish nine of the ten suns in order to save the everyone's crops. As a reward from the Empress, Hou Yi received a parcel of elixir - which would send whoever drank it to heaven and make them a celestial being. Not wanting to leave his beloved wife, Hou Yi asked Chang E to keep it safe. 

One day, when Hou Yi was out hunting, an enemy named Peng Meng arrived at their home and threatened Chang E to hand over the elixir. In a rushed decision Chang E drank the elixir and in a matter of seconds her body floated off the ground and flew towards heaven.

When Hou Yi arrived home he knew exactly what had happened. Overcome with grief, Hou Yi shouted his wife's name as he looked up into the nights sky. The moon was especially bright that night and Hou Yi could make out his wife's shadow on top. Realising that he could not get to her, Hou Yi created a spread of all her favourite things, including sweets and fresh fruit. Word spread across the community and became a tradition ever since. 

Today the moon is regarded as a symbol of harmony and unity and Mid-Autumn festival is a time for friends and family to come together. Celebrations still involved sweets, including moon cakes, and are accompanied by dancing and lanterns.

Chinese lantern