Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mid-Autumn Festival

On the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, the moon is full and it is time for the Chinese people to mark their Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival. The round shape symbolises family reunion. Therefore the day is a time for family members to get together and enjoy the full moon - an auspicious token of abundance, harmony and luck.

An integral part of this festival is the lighting of lanterns and eating of mooncakes. According to popular belief, the custom of eating mooncakes began in the late Yuan dynasty. As the story goes, the Han people of that time resented the Mongol rule of the Yuan Dynasty and revolutionaries, led by Chu Yuan-chang, plotted to usurp the throne. Chu needed to find a way of uniting the people to revolt on the same day without letting the Mongol rulers learn of the plan. Chu's close advisor, Liu Po-wen, finally came up with a brilliant idea. A rumor was spread that a plague was ravaging the land and that only by eating a special mooncake distributed by the revolutionaries could the disaster be prevented. The mooncakes were then distributed only to the Han people, who found, upon cutting the cakes open, the message 'Revolt on the fifteenth of the eighth moon'. Thus informed, the people rose together on the designated day to overthrow the Yuan, and since then mooncakes have become an integral part of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

We had lanterns lit and feasted on a variety of mooncakes and Chinese tea. This was suppose to be a time for reunion but after some 'reunioning', we had to send my brother to the airport. He's off to work on Tuesday for the next six months or so. Oh well, that's life.

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