Festivals of Malaysia - Mid-Autumn Festival

2019-05-17


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The ancient Chinese were captivated by the beauty of the moon and would worship the harvest moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

The terminology “Mid-Autumn” was first introduced in the book Rites of Zhou, written during the Warring States Period.  The ancient Chinese were captivated by the beauty of the moon and would worship the harvest moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.  They believed the practice would bring them a year of plentiful harvest. 

One of the popular traditions during the Mid-Autumn Festival is eating mooncakes.  The story began during the end of the Yuan Dynasty, when the Hans were planning a resistance to overthrow the Mongols.  In order to recruit more Hans to join the resistance army, Liu Bowen, the military counselor thought of an idea of slipping papers in the mooncakes.  These mooncakes were later sold to the Hans and on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Hans initiated an uprising against the Mongols.

Another interesting Chinese folklore on the Mid-Autumn Festival is a story of a pair of star crossed lovers.  The legend began with the story of two married immortals Chang’e and Houyi, who were banished to earth as mortals by the Jade Emperor.  In order to regain Chang’e’s immortality, she went to search for the Elixir of Immortality and flew to the moon, accompanied by a jade rabbit.  It is only during the Mid-Autumn Festival when Houyi, who remains a mortal, can cross the Milky Way to meet his wife.

Today, Mid-Autumn Festival bears a significant meaning to the Chinese community.  It is a time of family gathering and a time of thanksgiving for harmonious union.  The mooncakes are usually filled with a wide variety of fillings ranging from lotus paste, red bean, and green tea to mixed nuts.  During this festive season, brightly lit lanterns in the shape of animals, mystical creatures or even the latest trendy designs are popular among children who will parade around in their communities.

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