Origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Written by Caitlin Anne Young           and           Edited by Denise Joaquin, Matthew Yuching

Photo Header by Bryce Ching

This year, Ateneo Celadon invites you to a night of neon lights this Friday, September 28, at the 5th floor of the New Rizal Library for its annual Mid-Autumn Festival dice game.

First, let’s have a quick background on the much-awaited event. The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated every year by Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and even Vietnamese people. It takes place every 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar—in this year’s case, Monday, September 24!

Mooncakes are traditionally eaten during this event to celebrate the full moon, as well as to spread good luck for a bountiful harvest. The significance of the full moon can be attributed to several beliefs and legends, but perhaps the most fascinating and widely-accepted one is that of the famed hero, Hou Yi.

The story takes place way back, when the Earth still had 10 suns revolving around it. The extreme heat made people’s lives very difficult. Hou Yi impressed people with his immense strength and power by shooting down 9 of these 10 suns. After being acclaimed a hero, he went on to marry a beautiful woman named Chang E. They loved each other very much and lived a blissful life together.

Hou Yi and Chang E. Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chang%27e_flies_to_the_moon_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15250.jpg.

One day, Hou Yi came upon Wangmu, the Empress of Heaven. The Empress was so impressed with this mere mortal’s prowess that she bestowed upon him a precious gift: The elixir of life. Just one sip would be enough to make Hou Yi immortal.

Hou Yi had no interest being immortal so he kept his elixir safely at home and told his wife to guard it well. Unfortunately, Hou Yi’s jealous apprentice, Peng Meng, saw it and desired to have it for himself. He broke into Hou Yi’s house one day and cornered Chang E for the elixir. Knowing she could not overcome the strength of Peng Meng, Chang E swallowed the elixir herself and floated up to the heavens—and landed on the moon.

Hou Yi was so saddened by his wife’s sacrifice that every year, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, he would offer sacrifices, such as food and money, to his wife. The rest of the people around Hou Yi, upon learning his wife Chang E had become a goddess of the moon, did the same.

And so the legend of the Mid-Autumn Festival is born. Thanks to it, we have several traditions such as this one to celebrate. A night of fun, games, and prizes awaits you at this year’s MAF dice game. It’s definitely an event that you wouldn’t want to miss. So what are you waiting for? Join Ateneo Celadon for its annual dice game now!

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