September 29th, 2017
Is there a Chinese tradition more beloved than Mid-Autumn Festival? While you do get red packets on Lunar New Year, the Chinese harvest festival will always have a special place in a child’s heart. Maybe they won’t care much for traditional double-yolk lotus paste mooncakes, but you can’t deny their love for colourful lanterns and sparklers. While that’s charming, Mid-Autumn Festival is an auspicious period that is closely associated with reunion and love. Explaining them to our children not only helps them see the significance but also ensures the passing down of these beautiful traditions for generations to come. Here are five Mid-Autumn Festival traditions you should explain to your kids:
The moon reaches its fullest every year, but what makes the one on the 15th day of the eighth month so special that we have to spend time gazing at it? Like many other cultures, the Chinese believe the moon is a goddess. The goddess Chang’E was believed to be a mortal woman who swallowed the nectar of the gods in order to prevent her tyrannical husband, Hou Yi, from becoming immortal himself. Chang’E then finds herself ascending to the moon and from then on, she became the Moon Goddess.
Luxurious, delicious, and rich in calories, it’s fortunate we only get to indulge in these pastries once a year! According to Chinese history, mooncakes played a major role in the liberation of Yuan China from the Mongols in the 14th century. Zhu Yuan Zhang, a rebel leader, had the ingenious idea of placing secret messages in mooncakes. Passed around as a festive goodie, the rebels managed to instigate a rebellion right under the nose of the Mongols.
Like how candles play a major role in many celebrations and ceremonies, lanterns are a notable part of the mid-autumn festivities. They are considered auspicious as they symbolise the light of the moon. In some countries, lanterns, called Kongming Lanterns, are painted on with wishes and sent up into the sky in hope that the Moon Goddess will grant them.
Because of its round appearance, this citrus fruit is given to friends and family as an auspicious symbol. Some believe that by wearing the rinds on your head as a hat will make you visible to the Moon Goddess, thereby ensuring your prayers are heard.
The Rabbit Motif
You’ve probably heard that a jade rabbit lives on the moon. This belief stems from a Chinese folktale which tells the tale of three immortals who encountered a fox, a monkey and a rabbit while disguised as beggars. When they asked the three animals for sustenance, the fox and the monkey presented them with food, but the less resourceful rabbit couldn’t. Feeling guilty, the rabbit offered itself up as meat and jumped into the fire. Moved by the sacrifice, the immortals saved the rabbit’s soul and sent it to live in the moon palace with Chang’E.
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