Chinese Mooncake Festival is a mid autumn festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the lunar calendar and it falls somewhere around the month of August. Observers of this festival, mostly the Chinese, will eat moon cakes and carry lanterns to celebrate Chinese mooncake festival.
If you are in Singapore during this period, you might want to join in the festivities, especially if you have children, who will enjoy the lantern processions very much. If you would like to know more about the stories and legendary figures associated with the mid autumn festival, please read on.
Legend of Chang Er
Once upon a time, there were ten suns which surrounded the earth and caused severe droughts and untold suffering to the human. The Queen of Heaven could not bear to see her subjects suffer so, hence she ordered Hou Yi, a famous archer, to save the earth.
He managed to use his arrows to shoot down nine of the suns. The Queen of Heaven rewarded Hou Yi with the elixir of life for his heroic deed. However, fame and fortune got to his head and Hou Yi slowly became very evil. His wife, Chang Er, knew that immortality would be perilous if bestowed upon one so tyrannical as him, hence she drank the elixir of life before he could do so. After drinking the elixir of life she felt lightening until she could fly. Fearing her husband's retribution, she flew to the moon. Evil though he was, Hou Yi loved his wife so much that he never shot down the moon and allowed Chang Er to live at the moon forever.
Wu Kang was a woodcutter. He wanted to be immortal but never tried his best to learn the theurgy. The Jade Emperor was very angry with him. As punishment he planted a Cherry Bay at the moon and ordered Wu Kang to chop the tree down before he would allow Wu Kang to come back.
Little did Wu Kang know that he would never complete his task because every time he chopped the tree down it would regrow instantly. Even now on unclouded nights people can see some obvious shadows on the moon. They are made by the huge cherry bay.
In this legend, three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men begging for food. They visited a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. The fox and monkey had food to offer them but the rabbit had nothing. Feeling sorry for the old men, the rabbit sacrificed himself and jumped into the blazing fire to cook himself as an offering to the beggars. The three fairy sages were very touched and let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the Jade Rabbit.
Mooncakes are more than a tasty treat, with an interesting story behind the Chinese mid autumn festival tradition of their consumption. The story goes thus - China was once ruled by Mongolians during the Yuan dynasty at AD. 1280-1368.
Being very unhappy at the prospect of being ruled by foreigners, the leaders of thfe preceding Sung dynasty decided to go underground to coordinate a rebellion against the Yuan government. The rebellion leaders ordered all the civilians to bake moon cakes Inside each moon cake would be inserted an outline of the attack against the government. The Mongolians were not interested in this new pastry of their "inferiors" - much to their downfall.
The plan was a resounding success. The Mongolian government was overthrown and the Ming Dynasty established. To commemorate this event, the Chinese will bake and eat moon cakes to celebrate the Chinese mid autumn festival, a tradition that has given us the delectable treats of today.