most popular legend about the origin of the Mid Autumn Festival goes like this:-
Once the earth was scorched by ten suns and the people suffered a lot due to this.
The crops were parched and the people were plunged into penury. A strong and powerful
young man called Hou Yi was quite worried about the entire situation. He ascended
the summit of the Kunlun Mountain, exercised his superhuman powers and shot down
nine suns one after the other, with his bow and arrow. He also ordered the last
sun to rise and set according to a time set by him. Hou Yi was respected and loved
by people for his great feat that rescued the lives of many. Lots of people of
ideals and integrity came to him to learn martial arts from him. A person named
Peng Meng lurked among them.
Yi had a charming and beautiful wife named Chang E whom he loved immensely and
with whom he never wanted to part. Once on his way to the Kunlun Mountain , Hou
Yi stumbled upon the Empress Wangmu who was touched by his love for his wife,
gave him a parcel of elixir, at the intake of which one would ascend immediately
to heaven and become a celestial being. However the elixir was only good to make
only one person immortal. Hou Yi however hated to part with his wife and asked
Chang E to keep the elixir with her for the time being. Chang E kept it in a treasure
box and hid it in secret place. But it could not escape the watchful eyes of Peng
days later, when Hou Yi went for hunting, Peng Meng grabbed the opportunity he
has been waiting for. He rushed into Chang E's chamber, sword in hand and demanded
the elixir. Aware of the fact that she was unable to measure up to the strength
of Peng Meng, Change E made a prompt decision at a critical moment. She opened
her treasure box, took up the elixir and swallowed it in one gulp. After a moment,
she felt light and her body floated off the ground, rose higher and reached the
sky. Chang E landed on the moon and became an immortal goddess. Peng meng escaped.
Yi could not believe the misfortune that had befallen him. Overburdened with grief,
he looked up at the sky and called out the name of his beloved wife. He noticed
that the moon was unusually bright and clear that night and on it there was a
swaying shadow that resembled his wife. He tried to chase the moon but the moon
Yi began to miss his wife terribly. He had an incense table arranged in the back
garden and put fresh fruits and sweet meats on it, that Chang E loved and held
a memorial ceremony for her.
people heard that Chang E has transformed into a celestial being, they made arrangements
for incense table in the moonlight and prayed to her for good fortune and peace.
This is how the custom of worshipping the moon became popular among the people.
couples declare their undying love for each other under the full moon of this
mid autumn day. Estranged lovers pray for their reunion.
legend concerns Wu Kang, a restless fellow who found it difficult to concentrate
on a particular thing. One day he decided that he wanted to be immortal and went
to live in the mountains where he met an immortal and asked him to teach him the
secrets of immortality. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to
cure sickness. But a few days later his characteristic restlessness surfaced and
Wu Kang asked the immortal to teach him chess, but after a short while his enthusiasm
again waned. Then Wu Kang was asked to go through books on immortality. As usual,
Wu Kang became bored with it in a short while and asked whether they could travel
to some new and exciting place. Fed up with Wu Kang's impatience, the master banished
him to the Moon Palace commanding him to cut down a huge cassia tree before returning
to the earth. Though Wu Kang continued to chop the tree day and night, yet the
magical tree restored itself with each blow, and therefore he is there still chopping
was ruled by the Mongolian people during the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368). Leaders
from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1280) were unhappy at submitting to
foreign rule, and set to coordinate a secret rebellion. As the Moon Festival was
drawing near, the leaders of the rebellion ordered the making of special cakes.
the back of each was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of
the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government.
What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today,
moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.
According to the legend of the "Jade Rabbit", three fairy sages
transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged to eat something from the
fox, a rabbit and the monkey. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to
the old men, but the rabbit who had nothing to offer, offered his own flesh instead,
jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the
rabbit's sacrifice that they allowed him live in the Moon Palace where he became
the "Jade Rabbit."
OF MOON CAKE
is an interesting story behind the popularity of the Mooncakes. During the Yuan
Dynasty (1280 A.D - 1368 A.D), China was ruled by the Mongols. They were very
oppressive rulers and were overthrown by the Chinese. It might sound curious but
the fact remains that the mooncakes played a significant role in the rebellion.
The Mongols did not eat mooncakes and the Chinese were quick to take advantage
of that. They found an innovative way of coordinating the revolt. Leaders of the
revolt distributed the mooncakes among the common people under the pretext of
celebrating the Emperor's long life. Each mooncake had an outline of the attack
baked within its skin. The secret message informed the people to revolt on the
15th of the 8th moon (also the Autumn Moon festival). On the night of the Moon
Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Since
then the mooncakes became a national tradition of China.