Mid Autumn Festival Reading Comprehension: Understanding the Traditions and Legends

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Mid Autumn Festival Reading Comprehension: Understanding the Traditions and Legends

The Mid Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a highly celebrated holiday in many East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. The festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, when the moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest. It is a time for families to come together, appreciate the beauty of the moon, and indulge in delicious mooncakes. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of the Mid Autumn Festival, exploring its history, traditions, legends, and significance.

1. History of the Mid Autumn Festival

The Mid Autumn Festival has a rich history that dates back over 3,000 years. It was first celebrated during the Zhou Dynasty in ancient China as a harvest festival, a time to give thanks to the gods for a bountiful harvest. As time passed, the festival became more closely associated with moon worship, as people started to believe that the moon was a symbol of fertility, longevity, and unity.

During the Tang Dynasty, the Mid Autumn Festival gained popularity among the royal court and literati. Poems and writings dedicated to the moon and its beauty became prevalent, and the festival took on a more romantic and nostalgic atmosphere. The Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e, also became a central figure in the Mid Autumn Festival’s mythology during this period.

2. Traditional Customs and Practices

The Mid Autumn Festival is a time for families to come together and celebrate. Here are some of the most common customs and practices associated with the festival:

  • Moon Gazing: Families gather outdoors or near windows to appreciate the full moon’s beauty. It is believed that the moon is at its brightest and brings good luck during this time.
  • Eating Mooncakes: Mooncakes are the traditional food of the Mid Autumn Festival. These round pastries are often filled with lotus seed paste, red bean paste, or salted egg yolks. Sharing and exchanging mooncakes symbolize unity and good fortune.
  • Lantern Displays: Colorful lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung outside homes and in public spaces. The lanterns create a festive atmosphere and add to the enchanting beauty of the festival.
  • Dragon and Lion Dances: Streets come alive with vibrant dragon and lion dances, accompanied by lively music. These performances are believed to bring prosperity and drive away evil spirits.

These traditions vary slightly between regions, but the core essence of coming together, appreciating the moon, and enjoying mooncakes remains consistent.

3. Legends and Folklore

The Mid Autumn Festival is steeped in legends and folklore that have been passed down through generations. Here are some of the most well-known tales associated with the festival:

  • Chang’e and Houyi: One of the most popular Mid Autumn Festival legends involves Chang’e, the moon goddess, and her husband, Houyi. According to the legend, Houyi saved the Earth by shooting down nine of the ten suns that were scorching the Earth. As a reward, he was given the elixir of immortality. However, Houyi did not consume the elixir, as he did not wish to become immortal without his beloved wife. One day, while Houyi was away, Chang’e accidentally swallowed the elixir and ascended to the moon. On the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, Houyi would gaze at the moon, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beloved wife.
  • Jade Rabbit: Another popular legend tells the story of the Jade Rabbit, a companion of Chang’e on the moon. The Jade Rabbit is believed to be pounding medicine, using a mortar and pestle, to create an elixir of immortality. The legend originates from the image of rabbit-shaped markings on the moon’s surface.
  • Wu Gang and the Cherry Bay: The legend of Wu Gang and the Cherry Bay revolves around a woodcutter named Wu Gang, who was banished to the moon as a punishment for his laziness. Wu Gang is tasked with cutting down a magical cherry tree that constantly regenerates each time he chops it down. This legend serves as a moral lesson, highlighting the importance of perseverance and hard work.

These legends add an air of mystique and intrigue to the Mid Autumn Festival, making it more than just a celebration of the harvest and moon.

4. Significance and Symbolism

The Mid Autumn Festival holds deep significance and symbolism in Chinese culture. Here are some key aspects:

  • Reunion: The festival is often referred to as the “Festival of Reunion” as it is a time for family members to come together and strengthen their bonds. It is common for people to travel long distances to be with their loved ones during this special occasion.
  • Harvest Celebration: The Mid Autumn Festival is also a celebration of the harvest, symbolizing gratitude for the abundance of food and prosperity. It marks the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of cooler autumn days.
  • Fertility and Unity: The round shape of the mooncakes represents completeness and unity. It is a symbol of family unity and an expression of good wishes for the future.

The festival’s symbolism encourages people to cherish family ties, express gratitude, and foster a sense of unity within the community.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, the Mid Autumn Festival is a time-honored tradition celebrated by millions across East Asia. Rooted in history, mythology, and cultural significance, the festival brings families together to appreciate the beauty of the moon, enjoy delectable mooncakes, and partake in various customs and traditions. It serves as a reminder of the importance of family, gratitude, and unity.

So, this year, as the Mid Autumn Festival approaches, take a moment to gaze at the radiant moon, share a mooncake with your loved ones, and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere this magical festival brings.


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Mid Autumn Festival Reading Comprehension: Understanding the Traditions and Legends