Legend of the Chinese Moon Festival
Legend has it, thousands of years ago, a beautiful maiden named Chang'e and her husband Houyi, a master at archery, lived in heaven as immortals. One day the Jade Emperor, who was the King of Heaven, called for aid from Houyi. When Houyi reached the palace, he was told that the emperor's ten sons had transformed into ten suns. The suns were high in the sky above the Earth; causing the land to be scorched, food to become scarce, and a terrible drought. Thousands of people perished because of the extreme heat. Houyi, using his masterful archery skills, shot down nine of the ten sons, leaving one son alive to be the sun. The Jade Emperor was not pleased with Houyi's actions; His nine sons where no more. As punishment, Houyi and Chang'e were banished to the Earth to live as mortals.
Chang'e became extremely saddened. Seeing this, Houyi left her side to seek out the pill of immortality form the Queen Mother of the West. The queen agreed to give the pill to Houyi, but warned him to only use half for himself and the other for Chang'e to regain their immortality. Houyi returned home with the pill and warned Chang'e not to open the case which it was contained in. When he left home, the temptation overcame Chang'e and she opened the case just as Houyi was returning home. Nervous that Houyi would catch here looking at the pill; she threw it into her mouth and accidentally swallowed it just as her husband opened to door. Chang'e began to float into the air, climbing higher and higher due to the overdose of the immortality pill. She floated higher than Houyi's reach, he wanted to shoot her back down, but he could not stomach the thought of pointing his bow and arrow at his beloved wife. Chang'e floated beyond the clouds far into the sky and eventually came to rest on the moon. Chang'e was deeply saddened and lonely without her husband. But she wasn't alone on the moon! A jade rabbit already lived there! (Check out the Jade Rabbit's story here http://bit.ly/bZ9Vh) Chang'e and the rabbit became good friends and she was no longer lonely. On the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the full moon of the 8th lunar month, an altar is set up facing the moon to worship her. New pastries are put on the altar for her to bless and in return, she endows her worshippers with beauty and fertile lands for food cultivation.
The Moon Festival is a great night time event with lots of fun and beautiful activities for the whole family. It is a time of unity and remembrance with an assortment of delicious foods from fresh and sweet Chinese grapefruits (pomelo) to dense and stunning Mooncakes. So on October 3rd 2009, don't forget to look up at the moon and think of all your loved ones far from home. You never know, they too may be doing the exact same thing.