Mid-Autumn Festival: The Legend of Chang'e

September 12, 2019

Each year in China, we celebrate the harvest festival, better known as the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 zhōngqiū jié).
As per tradition, this celebration brings with it the mooncakes and family gatherings that we all look forward to.

But why do we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in the first place?

There are many tales that tell the legend behind this holiday. However, the most popular remains that of Chang'e flying to the moon.

Once upon a time there lived a hunter named Hou Yi. He was very strong and very brave.
One day, ten suns rose together into the sky causing great chaos and disaster. Hou Yi took his bow and shot down nine of the suns.
Order was restored to the land and to show her gratitude, the Empress of heaven presented Hou Yi an elixir of immortality.
News spread quickly that Hou Yi had received the elixir from the Empress. Fearing for its safety, Hou Yi gave the elixir to his wife Chang'e for safekeeping.
One day when Hou Yi was away hunting, a villain named Pengmeng broke into the couple's home. He demanded that Chang'e give him the elixir of immortality.
Chang'e refused and, out of desperation, swallowed the elixir herself.
Now immortal, Chang'e was exiled from the earth. Not wanting to be too far from her husband, Chang'e flew to the moon, for from there she could still see Hou Yi as he lived down below.
Hou Yi returned from his hunt to find his wife gone. He saw her shadow as she flew to the moon and knew Chang'e had not gone far.  Still, he greatly missed his wife.
To honor Chang'e's memory, every full moon Hou Yi would place her favorite foods on the table and gaze into the sky, hoping to glimpse his wife.

Mid-Autumn Festival Vocab

Zhōngqiū jié
Mid-Autumn Festival

Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!


Měi féng jiājié bèi sī qīn.
On holidays we miss our loved ones more than ever.

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