The Moon Festival
The Moon Festival is one of the three most significant festivals of the Chinese communities around the world besides the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) and the Dragon Boat Festival. Originally named the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Moon Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month in observance of the bountiful autumn harvest. On the 15th day of the lunar month, the moon forms a round shape that symbolizes family reunion. Upon this occasion, the legends of the festival are often told to the children.
Legends of the Moon Festival
The custom of eating moon cakes tells a story of the downfall of the Yuan dynasty. The time was the Yuan dynasty (AD 1280-1368), established by the invading Mongolians from the north who subjugated the Han Chinese. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty were furious about submitting to foreign rules. A secret rebellion plan was coordinated to overthrow the Mongolians. Drawing close to the Moon Festival, the rebellion plans and outlines of attacks successfully passed out to all coordinators secretly via the messages and outlines stuffed in each moon cake. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the Yuan government which followed the rise of the Ming dynasty.
Chang Er & Hou-Yi
Something weird happened one day, 10 suns arose in the sky blazing the earth instead of one. As an expert archer, Hou-Yi stepped forward and shot down 9 suns successfully. For rescuing the earth and people, he instantly became a hero and eventually earned his crown as well as married Lady Chang Er. Having all these powers and authorities in hands, Hou-Yi grew to be a greedy and despot ruler yet sought for elixir to prolong his life of ruling. Hoping to end Hou-Yi’s plan for the sake of the people, Chang Er purposely swallowed the elixir. Miraculously, she floated towards the moon. Another legend also states a rabbit became Chang Er’s companion when she headed to the moon, thus the moon rabbit tale.
Seasonal Fruit - Pomelo
Pomelo, is a large citrus fruit which looks like a large version of grapefruit. It is a high nutritional value fruit called “Yo Zhi” in Chinese. The Yo in Yo Zhi sounds similar to blessing in Chinese, as people wish for the blessing of the moon and the production season happens to be around September. So the fruit became very popular during this time of the year and gradually became the representative fruit of the holiday. It often serves with moon cakes while you visit friend and family during this time of the year.
How Taiwan Celebrate the Moon Festival in Modern Days
With all the traditional activities still carry out, a new custom during the Moon Festival somehow started throughout the past twenty years in Taiwan. Barbeque has become more and more popular during this time of the year. It has nothing to do with any tradition. No one knows exactly how this began. The event just somehow became what people do during this time, a must do. The moon festival is a holiday when the family gathers and celebrates together, and now they barbeque. Large barbeque events are even held in every city. It’s a new and interesting way to celebrate the harvest festival, as long it’s a joyful reunion and wonderful gathering. The shops and venders will have everything you need ready for a good barbeque. It’s a great chance to cook up some good times in Taiwan.
Come visit Taiwan and find out what moon cakes taste like for your Taiwan festival travel!