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Mid-Autumn Festival

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Moon Cakes of Mid-Autumn Festival
Moon Cakes of Mid-Autumn Festival

Date: 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Dragon boat racing, enjoying the moonlight, and eating moon cakes

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival. To the Chinese people, the full moon symbolizes reunion, so the festival is also a time for family reunion. On that day, people eat moon cakes under the moonlight with family members. Moon cakes are pastries filled with gooey sesame, red bean, and walnut meats.

This festival originated in a fairy tale. There were ten suns in the sky, and rivers and lakes were dry because of the heat. People were burned to death. A hero named Hou Yi saved his people by shooting down the other nine suns. He was then bestowed with the elixir of immortality by the Queen Mother of the West. He did not want to consume the elixir and leave his beautiful but very mortal wife, Chang Er, so he gave the elixir to his wife for safekeeping.

One day, when Hou Yi was out for hunting, his disloyal apprentice Peng Meng tried to steal the elixir. Chang E, knowing that she could not give the elixir to this villian, had toswallow the elixir. She then became a supernatural being. She flew to the moon, and from there watched her husband. Knowing that his wife had now been separated from him, Hou Yi was crazed with grief. Looking up at the moon one night, he saw a figure like his wife. He hurriedly took cakes and succade (preserves in sugar, whether fruits, vegetables, or confections) as offerings to his wife. Upon hearing this, people developed the custom of watching the moon and eating moon cakes annually on this day.

There is also a story about moon cakes. It is said at the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the oppressed Han people tried to rise up against the Mongolian rulers, but they did not know how to release the massage. Liu Bowen, a general followed Zhu Yuanzhang (the first emperor of the Ming dynasty), came up an idea that he spread the rumor that there would be plague in the winter and the only way to avoid the disease was eating moon cakes on the Mid-Autumn Day. Therefore, every family bought moon cakes before the festival, and they found notes in the cakes which read "rise up and kill the Mongolian rulers on the Mid-Autumn Day". The Mongolian rulers were finally defeated and the Ming Dynasty was established.

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