A Happy Moon Festival to you all!

September 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival! It’s over 3000 years old! In China and Hong Kong, people celebrate it by eating delicious mooncakes and drinking tea while sitting out under the full moon.

There are many legends surrounding the Moon Festival, but my favourite is the story of the great archer Houyi and his wife Chang’e. The story goes that at that time, there were ten suns shining on the Earth, one at a time. But one day they all shone together, burning the Earth. So Houyi, who was a famous archer, shot down nine of the suns with his bow and arrow. The people were so grateful that Houyi was made Emperor, but he was a cruel king and everyone hated him. One day, he was given the Elixir of Eternal Life. But before he had a chance to swallow it, his beautiful young wife Chang’e – who was tired of his cruelty to his people – swallowed it instead. The potion was so powerful that it caused her to float up to the moon, where she remains to this day (the Emperor still loved her, so he didn’t shoot her down!).

So why is there a rabbit in the picture? Well…. there’s another legend about a rabbit, a fox and a monkey. One day, three poor old men (who were actually fairy sages in disguise) begged the animals to give them some food. The fox and the monkey both had food to give the old men. But the rabbit had no food to give. So he jumped into the fire and sacrificed himself so that the old men could eat. They were so impressed by his kindness that they sent him to live in a Palace on the Moon, where he became the Jade Rabbit! He lives there to this day, grinding herbal medicines for the Immortals with a mortar and pestle.   

And in some stories, both Chang’e AND the Jade Rabbit are grinding the medicines on the Moon! If you look up at the Moon tonight, you never know, you might just see them!

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