Chang Er Flying to the Moon
The legend Chang Er Flying to the Moon is a beautiful legend of ancient China. Chang Er was the wife of the legendary hero Hou Yi, a great archer who accomplished great achievements by shooting down nine extra suns. The hero was rewarded with an elixir of immortality for his deed, which was then swallowed by his wife during a commotion with Peng Meng who wanted to steal the elixir for his own greed. Soon after, Chang Er began to rose up to the sky and landed on the moon ever since. In sadness, the distressed Hou Yi yelled for his beloved wife but only noticed a familiar shadow moving at the moon, much resembling Chang Er. Word spread that Chang Er has become the moon deity and people have since every Mid-Autumn place offerings and pray to the moon for the kind-hearted Chang Er to grant peace and happiness to them.
Wu Gang was a woodchopper. He always wanted to become an immortal, but he never tried his best to learn the necessary knowledge. The Jade Emperor got angry with him because of his attitude. In order to punish him, the Jade Emperor planted a huge cherry bay, which was 1,665 meters high, on the moon and ordered Wu Gang to chop it down, then Wu Gang could become an immortal. This time, Wu Gang was very serious, but he could never finish his work. The cherry bay healed every time that Wu Gang chopped it. Wu Gang wouldn’t give up. He tried time and time again.On unclouded nights people can see some obvious shadows on the moon. They are made by the huge cherry bay.
The history of Mid-Autumn
The Mid-autumn Festival dates back over 3,000 years, to moon worshipping in the Shang Dynasty. Ancient Chinese emperors worshiped the moon in the autumn, as they believed that the practice would bring them another harvest year. However, not until the early Tang Dynasty was the day when it was officially celebrated as a traditional festival. It then became an established festival during the Song Dynasty, and has become as popular as the Spring Festival since the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The tradition of eating moon cakes during the festival began in Yuan Dynasty. At the end of Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), China was ruled by the Mongols. The Han people’s army wanted to overthrow the rule of the Mongols, so they planed an uprising. But they had no way to inform every Han who wanted to join them of the time of the uprising without being discovered by the Mongols. A military counselor of the Han people’s army, Liu Bowen, thought out a stratagem related to moon cakes knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near. He asked his soldiers to spread the rumor that there would be a serious disease in winter and eating moon cakes was the only way to cure the disease. He then asked soldiers to write “uprising, at the night of Mid-Autumn Festival” on papers and put them into moon cakes then sell them to common Han people. When the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival came, a huge uprising broke out and overthrew the government. From then on, people eat moon cakes every Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the uprising.