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Home > Article > Flowers, Holidays, & Chinese Culture > Moon Festival

The Moon Maiden - The Lady in the Moon

On the fifteenth day of the eight lunar month, the moon over China is at its brightest and most brilliantly glowing.

On this night, a grand festival is made of offerings to the Goddess and her legions of the moon. They receive mooncakes, fruits, sweet meats and all things wonderful from the dinner table in the midst of fluttering lanterns -- animals, automobiles, airplanes made of bamboo and wire papered over in rainbow colors that flicker and glow when held high on house pillars or nearby trees.

To Chinese children, this is their Lantern Festival. Many friendships are made during this night of lights, when new friends dare tread together to those previously dark places now lit by lanterns and a full moon. If by chance they meet a phantom of the night in this delightful time of lights, it抯 time to ask what legends presage the celebration of a world-wide community of Chinese people.

Around 2000 B.C., there ruled in Imperial China, an emperor, Son of Heaven and Lord of Ten Thousand Years, who had a peculiar talent for sensing by sight alone the phenomena we now called "earth-warming." One fine summer afternoon, while listening to one of his imperial concubines playing the PiPa (a pear shaped mandolin), and gazing toward his Summer Palace Gazebo, he saw ten suns overlapping each other, beating sharp rays never seen before. Ever conscious of his role as protector of the community, he feared the overpowering suns would scorch the people, dry up wells, rice paddies, lakes and seas. The earth, be dreaded, would overheat and burn to its horrific conclusion.

What was to be done? Quickly he summoned his imperial presence, General Hou Yih, an officer guardsman of the imperial household guards, who distinguished himself as his Lord Protector by having been a very skilled archer of tremendous strength. When he was told of the ten overlapping suns burning brightly at noon and threatening to scorch all on earth, he immediately shot nine arrows aimed at nine suns across the sky. They were reported to be on target, and by the evening, only one sun was going down over the meadows. Earthwarming was no longer a threat to life, limb, and agriculture.

His Imperial Majesty and his consort, the Empress, were impressed. Soon, the Goddess of the Western Heavenly Realm beard of General Hou's giant Leap for mankind. She commissioned him to be architect and imperial builder of a multi-colored rainbow palace from her imperial collection of jade, a gem stone valued highly by the Chinese Imperial Dynasties and henceforth by Chinese people everywhere.

Naturally, as a General, he was able to marshall the sinew of armed men for the building project. The Palace was so well built and so appropriate as a fortress that Her Imperial Majesty felt that it would be a tragedy that a man so gifted should die a premature death, either in a battle or by accident. Therefore, she decided to confer eternal life on him by offering as a reward the "Elixir of Immortality-Life Eternal" in the form of the "Pill of Life Eternally" on the singular condition that he was not to swallow it until a full year of prayerful contemplation and fasting at a local monastery. He took it home, but busy with imperial duties, he had it hidden in a secret place without telling his Wife Lady O-Chang about the potent power of the Pill.

While away on one of his imperial missions, Lady O-Chang accidentally found the pill in its secret hiding place and swallowed it. Lo and Behold! She was airborne within seconds and bound for eternal banishment to the full brilliant moon above to complement the divine natural beauty of the moon with her own beautiful attributes of form and substance. As she was soaring like an eagle at full flight, contrary to the earthly laws of gravity. General Hou saw this totally unexpected turn of events and took arms in hot pursuit.

However, as if by divine intervention, typhoon winds swept and turned him back to earth. His was the earth and all therein to cherish and love till the end of his days Lady O-Chang, on the other hand, became the divinely beautiful Moon Goddess whose celestial realm was the Moon and stars that twinkle like a thousand points of light in a heavenly dance, fluttering, flickering, to and for across the skies at night, delighting one and all, especially during this season of the mid-Autumn Moon, when the celestial Goddess of the moon makes her appearance at the offerings put forward by earth people!

Children are asked to concentrate quietly at these prayerful offerings, for deep thoughts and clear minds do sometimes render the unexpected sighting of this phantom goddess of the night. For some five thousand years now, during the August Moon Festival, Chinese elders repeat this epic legend of magic for children and to all who would listen of how, why, and when this Festive Day and Night is celebrated. Lady O-Chang has reached the status of immortality in the form and substance of the Goddess, as lovely as she ever was while here on earth.

- the end

Picture Book: Moon Lady - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0689806167


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