Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

Ok, so by the time you are reading this, it will be Mid-Autumn Festival, so I’ll be posting this. The term Mind-Autumn Festival wasn’t actually used inside the comic, but mooncakes are becoming such a big part in the festival, that people just connect the two together. (You should know about it, supermarkets always sell lots of mooncakes near Mid-Autumn Festival,. You might feel a little intimidated, but don’t worry, you can ward off evil mooncake spirits by wearing a garlic necklace.) People in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines sometimes call it the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival. To the Chinese, it is 中秋節 (Zhongqiu Festival).
People all over the world celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. However, it was originally celebrated only by Chinese and Vietnamese people during the Shang Dynasty around 3000 years ago to worship their moon. (around 1000BC). Then after a while, it started to spread to to other countries, just like other festivals. (I think it’s because it meant that people would have another holiday) Anyway, people today celebrate by taking lanterns out and eating mooncakes. The Chinese also burn incense and the Taiwanese celebrate by barbecuing meat outdoors.
But how did it all start? There are many legends, but the most popular one is the legend of Houyi and Chang’e. There are many variations of this legend, but usually Houyi is an  emperor, and an awesome archer. Chang’e is usually his wife.
Anyway, Houyi and Chang’e were immortals (people who can’t die) who lived in Heaven. And at that time there were 10 suns and they took turns to appear in front of Earth. So everybody was good and happy, until Houyi and Chang’e got kicked out to Earth. There were lots of different legends why it happened, but in the end they got turned back to normal people who died normally and lived normally on a normal piece of normal property.
Then, there was a day that the 10 suns came out came out all together. (Don’t ask me why, jealous, maybe?) Anyway, the 10 suns were burning the trees and drying the earth and basically helping global warming a whole lot, So, Houyi shot down 9 suns using his arrows. (Oh, the power of archery) One of the different legends say that Houyi and Chang’e only got kicked out of Heaven when Houyi killed the 9 suns.
After that, Houyi and Chang’e got a pill. Again, there are different versions of the legend, but they either got it from the Jade Emperor (the Emperor of Heaven) or the Queen Mother of the West (who was the Jade Emperor’s wife). After that, Houyi put it into a box and told Chang’e not to touch it. And of course, Chang’e, being a very faithful wife, ate it, (Another version says that Chang’e ate it because one of Chang’e’s archery students tried to eat it, but she decided that it would bring better benefits to mankind if she ate it, and so she ate it) After that, she became immortal again, and she gained the ability to fly.
After Houyi returned home, he found that his wife ate the pill, they faced some domestic problems. She then flew away, and just like any other romantic situation, Houyi followed her. Chang’e flew to the moon, and right on time, the pill ran out of power. Houyi decided to build a castle in the sun so that he could balance the male aspect of himself with the female aspect of Chang’e on the moon. (Are you confused? Don’t worry, because I am too) Houyi would visit his wife once a year, which is on the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is why the moon is so full and bright on that day. Houyi also happened to order a hare on the moon to make another pill so that Chang’e could fly back to Earth, but after 3000 years, the hare is still making the pill, so they kind of gave up.
There are also Vietnamese versions. One of them is about a sacred Banyan tree who brought someone called Cuội to the moon because her wife went to the toilet on the tree. Everyday on Mid-Autumn Festival, people would light up their lanterns to show Cuội  the way to the Earth.
Then, there is the confusion over the date of Mid-Autumn Festival. For this year, it’s the 12th of September. But for 2012, it’s September 30th. This is because the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally the 15th of the eighth month in the Chinese Calendar. However, the Chinese Calendar is different from the calendar we use today, and by the time it gets switched around, it’s kind of mixed up, and you end up with some time in September or October. So to end this post, I’ll post all the dates of Mid-Autumn Festival for the following few years:

  • 2012: September 30
  • 2013: September 19
  • 2014: September 8
  • 2015: September 27
  • 2016: September 15
  • 2017: October 4
  • 2018: September 24
  • 2019: September 13
  • 2020: October 1

    Update: I made a comic showing Houyi’s and Chang’e:Houyi and Chang'e

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