Chinese Moon Festival or Autumn Festival
The Chinese Moon Festival is one of the most popular festivals after the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). It is always on the 15th day of the 8th month by the Chinese lunar Calendar. It is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. In China, it is a public holiday.
In China and in many China Towns around the world, it is celebrated with eating Moon Cakes and illuminations of Chinese lanterns and Chinese dragons and firecrackers.
It is believed that the festival dates back more than 2000 years to the Yuan dynasty (Ad 1280-1368). There are many versions of how this festival began. The most modern belief is that it celebrates the harvest for the year as China is a largely agricultural country. Other people believed that the moon was a god and once a year would pray to it. At this time, the moon is at its brighest.
Moon cakes are round pastries usually filled with red bean paste and with a yellow egg yolk. One of the beliefs is that in the Yuan dynasty, the rebel leaders ordered special cakes with a hidden message inside. The rebels declared victory and established the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368 -1644).
Folk Tale of Chang E. This story is one of many versions.
A long time ago, the Earth had ten suns circling it. Each sun took turns in illuminating the earth. One day, all ten moons appeared together. The earth became very hot and dangerous, scorching the people and animals.
Hou Yi was a strong and tyrannical archer. He saved the earth by shooting down nine of the suns. Yi became King.
One day, Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However, his beautiful wife called Chang E drank the pill to save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule. Chang E found herself floating to the moon. King Yi was very sad and missed his beautiful wife very much so he did not shoot down the moon.
Chang E became lonely on the moon and she had a jade rabbit to keep her company.