The Chinese people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Cake Day or Moon Festival at this time of year. When we arrived in China at the end of August there were mountains of moon cakes in all the markets.
Here is the story of Moon Festival and how modern China celebrates it today as told by Opal Shao, one of my freshman Oral English students:
According to legend in ancient China, there were ten suns in the sky, each taking a turn to burn the earth. One day, however, the ten suns all assembled, so the earth became too hot. Houyi, a skillful archer, shot down all but one of the suns. To reward him, the emperor of the mortals gave him a magic pill which could grant human beings eternal life and warned him that he would only need half a pill to regain immortality.
Houyi took the pill home and stored it in a case. He decided to share the pill with Chang'e on the 15th day of August, when the light of the full moon shone on the earth. However, Chang'e opened the case secretly when her husband was away from home. She swallowed the entire pill and flew out the window into the sky. Chang'e reached the moon. She became lonely on the moon without her husband and always cried regretfully. Although Houyi was a great archer, he did not shoot down the moon because he loved his wife. Once a year, on Middle Autumn day, Houyi has a chance to visit his wife. That is why, that night the moon is full and beautiful.
All of us have learned that we'll take moon cakes on that day, but do you know the origin? Actually, there is a story about the moon cake. During the Yuan dynasty, China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the Song dynasty were unhappy at submitting to the foreign rule, and set how to fight the enemies without being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered his cook to make special cakes. Baked into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. One the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of varieties of moon cakes on sale a month before the arrival of Moon Festival. They are mode with sweet nuts, red beans, lotus seed past or Chinese dates...then wrapped in a pastry. Sometimes a cooked egg yolk can be found in the middle of the dessert.
Moon is always used as a symbol of reunion in Chinese culture, so, besides moon cakes, Chinese family members will try to go home during this holiday. The families eat moon cakes together and watch moon in the evening. Those who can not return home watch the bright moonlight and feel deep long for their loved ones.
We Chinese people really love the festival, not only because it is our precious national culture, but also because we can have great fun with family and friends. During which we will gain happiness and love.