Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harvest Moon

The Mid-Autumn festival falls on the fifteen day of the eighth lunar month, which according to the lunar calendar is also the exact middle of autumn. At this time, the moon's orbit is at its lowest angle to the horizon, making the moon appear brighter and larger than any other time of the year. In the Western tradition, it is also called the Hunter's Moon or Harvest Moon.

But today is also my in-law’s birthday. It is going to be a busy night though. I will have to attend the dinner, and then hopefully I will still have a bit of time to bring my kids for a walk. My wife have brought three lanterns for the kids a week ago, the two elder daughters got the traditional ones that uses candle to light up. I can remember that when I was much younger, this is a good time to play with fire, under the consent of my parent, I never fail to expend each of my lanterns.

According to a widespread folk tale, the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty. As group gatherings were banned, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion. Noting that the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, the advisor to the Chinese rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Tatars on the 15th day of the Eighth Moon." (八月十五殺韃子) On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), under Zhu. Henceforth, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.

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