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Give Sacrifices to the Moon During This Time of Year

Sep. 23, 2020

Autumnal Equinox is the 16th of the 24 solar terms, which is generally from September 22nd to 24th on the Gregorian Calendar. The highest point of the sun continues to move south after the autumnal equinox so that the days are short and the nights are longer in the northern hemisphere while the southern hemisphere is experiencing the opposite effect.

There are two moments in the year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night consequently become equal duration. This is also when the two points in the sky where the ecliptic (the sun’s annual pathway) and the celestial equator (the imaginary circle equidistant from the celestial poles) intersect.

Most areas in China have gone into cool autumn weather featuring frequent rainfall and a sharp drop in “温度 (wēn dù) temperature”, as the cold air from the north butts up against warm air which falls gradually.

温度(wēn dù): n. temperature


wēn dù shēng gāo le.
The temperature has gone up.

wēn dù shì sì shí dù duō yì diǎn.
The temperature’s in the low 40s.


Offering sacrifices to the moon in autumn
In ancient times, it is said that people would offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and provide sacrifices to the moon in autumn. The autumn sacrifice is to worship the goddess of the moon with moon cakes, watermelon, apples, and other seasonal sacrifices.

Under the moon, after putting the memorial tablet of “the Goddess of the moon” in the specific direction of the moon and burning the candle, the whole family worships the moon successively and prays for blessings.

The custom of admiring the moon is to worship the moon, creating a relaxed atmosphere. In that time, the moon looks to be full and bright, thus the custom of feasting and gazing at the moon has existed all this time.

In an ancient Chinese myth, there is a female beauty named Chang’e who flew to the moon to live in a “宫殿 (gōng diàn) palace” so that her husband could not follow her.

宫殿 (gōng diàn): n. palace


zhè zuò gōng diàn hěn hóng dà.
This palace is grand.

tā men jìn rù le gōng diàn tíng yuàn.
They entered the palace courtyard.

Eating autumn vegetable
During this season it is also a popular time to start traveling. “Autumn vegetable” is a kind of wild amaranth that can be found around the wild fields and can be seen flourishing quite often.
This “autumn vegetable” is picked and brought back home to be cooked into a “汤(tāng) soup” with fish fillets, which is called “autumn soup”.

汤 (tāng): n. soup


tāng tài xián le.
The soup is too salty.

bié bǎ tāng sǎ le.
Don’t spill the soup.

In fact, this so-called “autumn soup” complies with autumn’s nourishing necessities proposed by Chinese Medicine.

Prick the mouth of the finch

During the autumnal equinox, everyone eats glutinous rice balls. It is also customary to insert many bamboo forks in the area of neighboring farmlands, aiming to protect crops from damages by sparrows by means of pricking them in the mouth. Sticking the moth of finch by may do not make efforts, but it is the good wish from farmers. This method doesn’t necessarily work as intended, however, it leaves the farmers hopeful.

As the name suggests, glutinous rice balls mainly consist of glutinous rice, therefore, the ingredients include high sugar content and calories. It is beneficial to replenish the heat energy of the body when eating during cool and cold seasons.

As it is said in the ancient book, The Detailed Records of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), “It is on the Autumn Equinox day that the Yin and Yang are in a balance of power…” So enjoy this special time of year.

HSK 3 quiz

Please choose the best answer to fill in the blank.

___________ zuì gāo dá 30 shè shì dù yǐ shàng .

A.宫殿 (gōng diàn)
B.温度 (wēn dù)

See Answer Analysis

You May Want to Learn More:
Why Chinese “教师节 (jiào shī jié)” Teacher’s Day Is Special
Chinese Summer Solstice Features Feminine Energy and Cold Noodles
Labor Day is Different in China this Year and Here’s Why

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