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Chinese Mid-Autumn Day is the second most important festival besides Chinese Spring Festival. This is a festival that people celebrate in the middle of the fall. At this special day of the year, the moon is at its roundest and family members are together to appreciate one of traditonal Chinese desert, Moon Cake, so this festival is also called Moon Cake Day or Moon Day. This year, 2012, the Mid-Autumn Day is at the end of September, just before Chinese National Holiday.

At the night of Mid-Autumn Day, some clear shadows will be easily seen on the moon. Chinese people have a beautiful love tale about those shadows. That is the story about a young beautiful lady, Chang E.  It is said that in ancient times, ten suns existed and the extreme heat made people’s lives very difficult. It was the hero Hou Yi who, owing to his great strength, shot down the nine of the ten suns. On hearing of this amazing feat and the hero who performed it, people came from far and wide to learn from him. Peng Meng was among these people. Later, Hou Yi married a beautiful and kind woman named Chang E and lived a happy life.

One day, Hou Yi came upon Wangmu (the queen of heaven) on the way to meet his old friend. Wangmu presented him an elixir which, if drunk, would cause him to ascend immediately to heaven and become an immortal. Instead of drinking the potion himself, Hou Yi took it home and presented it to Chang E to keep. Unfortunately, Peng Meng secretly saw Hou Yi give the potion to his wife and three days later, while Hou Yi was out hunting, Peng Meng rushed into the backyard and demanded that Chang E hand over the elixir. Knowing that she could not win, she took out the elixir and swallowed it immediately. The moment she drank it, she flew out of the window and up into the sky. Chang E’s great love for her husband drew her towards the Moon, which is the nearest heavenly body to the earth.

On realising what happened to his wife, Hou Yi was so grief stricken that he shouted Chang E’ s name to the sky. He was amazed to see a figure which looked just like his wife appeared in the Moon. He took the food liked by Chang E to an altar and offered it as a sacrifice for her. Hou Yi’s neighbours also burned incense and prepared food to express their good wishes to the kind Chang E. This became a custom later every year. 

Mid-Autumn Day is the time for the family reunion. Chinese people have strong family concept, but most time younger generation have to be far away from home to work or to study. Whenever there is a festival, they will try their best to be back to the parents to share the quality family time. The moon is round, the moon cake is round, anything round in Chinese symbolizes complete and together. So eating moon cake is one of the important food at that day. Moon cakes have various fillings and on the surface are printed different artistic patterns. Common moon cake fillings are nuts, sugar, sesame, ham and egg yolk. Moon cakes are also presented to friends and relatives as a typical Mid-Autumn Day gift to send a wish of good health, success and great family.


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