Happy Mid-Autumn Festival
Written by Valerie Yeung and Siobhan Lau
‘People have their own sorrow, joy, parting, and reunion.
The moon has its dimness, brightness, waning, and waxing.
Since ancient times, life has never been perfect.
May we all be blessed with longevity.
Although a thousand miles apart,
We can still share the fair moon together.’
This is an extract of the ‘Prelude to Water Melody’, which was wonderfully composed by Su Shi, the prestigious Chinese poet lived in the eleventh century. I always find this festival fascinating since it is inherited from 3000 years ago and has become one of the unmissable components of the Chinese heritage. Though the full moon always appears to be round with glowing silvery gleams RADIATING on every fifteenth of each lunar month, why do the Chinese people particularly choose the 15th of the August on the Lunar Calendar as the date of the feast? What is its origin? How did we celebrate it at the boarding house? Read on the find the answer J
IT STARTED WITH ‘ONCE UPON A TIME…’
Houyi, a legendary hero whom had once shot down 9 suns, became a tyranny shortly after he was throned. In order to remain powerful, he sought elixir for immortality and eventually obtained it from Xiwangmu. Acknowledged with her husband’s ambition, Chang'e stole the elixir on the fifteenth of August in attempt to rescue the people living under the reign from endless torment. Instead of keeping the magic potion safe in a place, she took the magic potion herself. When Houyi discovered the theft, he was so furious that he took up his bow and shot at his wife as she flew toward the moon. She became the spirit of the moon and thereafter, people offer a sacrifice to Chang'e on every lunar fifteenth of August to commemorate Chang'e's action.
In additional to the mythology above, it is also believed that people picked the 15th of the August on the Lunar Calendar to celebrate because it is the season when crops and fruits are all ripe and the weather is pleasant and mild. As the festival was passed down from one generation to another, the symbolism of reunion gradually evolved out of the festival.
Our Festive Celebration
On that day, most of the people in the boarding house went out to the school tennis court when the sky was dark for Mid-Autumn festival celebration. Once we went to the tennis court, we started lighting the candles to place them into the Chinese lanterns. The lanterns which we got was the most traditional one, we have to pull the lantern in order to make it in shape. Lanterns were lighted one by one. In total, we had around ten. Besides lanterns, we had glowing sticks as well. The colour looked nice in the dark. We used the glowing sticks as bracelets and necklaces. After getting all the props done, we started taking pictures with others. Thankfully, the weather was nice on that day. Personally I don't feel cold when I was outside for an hour. The sky was clear and we can see the moon clearly. The candles can last for more than an hour so when we went back to the boarding house, most candles are still burning.
When we all went back to the boarding house, people started having moon cakes, the traditional food for Mid-Autumn festival. We had moon cakes in different flavors. The most common one is moon cake with lotus paste with salted duck egg yolk. The modern one is custard cream with minced egg yolk. All of them were amazing.