The term “Mid-Autumn Festival” ( zhōng qiū jié 中秋节 ) was first used in the work “Rites of Zhou”. According to the ancient Chinese calendar, the 15th day of the 8th lunar calendar month marks the middle of autumn, hence the holiday on this day is called the “Mid-Autumn Festival”. Having been celebrated since ancient times, the Mid-Autumn Festival has developed different folk customs associated with it over the years, such as worshipping the moon ( jì yuè 祭月 ) , admiring the moon ( shǎng yuè 赏月 ) , answering riddles ( cāi mí 猜谜 ) , eating mooncakes ( chī yuè bǐng 吃月饼 ) , setting up lanterns ( wán huā dēng 玩花灯 ) , looking at osmanthus flowers ( shǎng guì huā 赏桂花 ) , and drinking osmanthus wine ( yǐn guì huā jiǔ 饮桂花酒 ) . During the Mid-Autumn Festival, the full moon signifies reunion ( tuán yuán 团圆 ) , inspires yearning for one’s hometown, and is the object of prayers for a plentiful harvest and year of happiness.
赏月 ( shǎng yuè ): n. to admire the (full) moon
rén men zài zhōng qiū jié nà tiān dōu huì shǎng yuè 、chī yuè bǐng.
人 们 在 中 秋 节 那 天 都 会 赏 月 、 吃 月 饼。
People admire the full moon and eat mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
zhōng qiū jié zhè tiān，měi jiā dōu yào tuán jù zài yì qǐ shǎng yuè.
中 秋 节 这 天， 每 家 都 要 团 聚 在 一起 赏 月。
On the day of the Mid-Festival Festival, every family will get together to admire the full moon.
According to folklore, Chang’e ( cháng é 嫦娥 ) was Hou Yi’s wife. After Hou Yi ( hòu yì 后裔 ) shot down 9 suns, Queen Mother West presented him with an elixir of youth as a reward, and he gave it to Chang’e for safekeeping. However, Hou Yi’s disciple Peng Meng ( péng méng 蓬蒙 ) coveted the elixir and forced Chang’e to show it to him. Chang’e was helplessly embarrassed and swallowed the elixir herself, soon floating into the sky. As she floated away, Chang’e soon managed to stop herself on the moon so that she would not have to be too far away from Hou Yi, and lived in the Guanghan Palace on the moon forever after. Because that day was the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, Hou Yi held a feast to reunite with Chang’e on that same day every year.
( cháng é ) : n. Chang’e
( hòu yì ) : n. Hou Yi
The cassia tree in front of the moon’s Guanghan Palace is said to have grown luxuriantly, reaching more than 500 feet high. At its base a person chopped at the tree, but to no avail – every cut in the tree closed up after it was made. This person was Wu Gang ( wú gāng 吴刚 ) , a native of Xihe in the Han Dynasty, who managed to go to the immortal realm of the gods. However, after making an egregious mistake he was sent to moon palace where he, for thousands of years, chopped at the cassia tree as punishment.
( wú gāng ) :n. Wu Gang
According to legend, there is a rabbit in the moon, as white as jade, called “Yutu” (yù tù 玉兔) the Jade Hare. This white rabbit holds a jade pestle, kneeling down and pounding medicine to form a “toad” (há mɑ 蛤蟆) pill, which can be taken by mortals to become immortal. Over time, the Jade Hare has become synonymous with the moon.
( yù tù ) :n. Yutu
( há mɑ ) :n. toad
2. Wu Gang Cutting the Cassia Tree (wú gāng zhé guì 吴刚折桂)
The cassia tree in front of the moon’s Guanghan Palace is said to have grown luxuriantly, reaching more than 500 feet high. At its base a person chopped at the tree, but to no avail – every cut in the tree closed up after it was made. This person was Wu Gang (wú gāng 吴刚), a native of Xihe in the Han Dynasty, who managed to go to the immortal realm of the gods. However, after making an egregious mistake he was sent to moon palace where he, for thousands of years, chopped at the cassia tree as punishment.
吴刚(wú gāng)：n. Wu Gang
The above stories are some of the more well-known tales associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival, but there’s another custom that has recently become popular again: posing (and answering) riddles.
Leave your guesses, and explanations, in the comments below!
chūn hé qiū dōu bú rè （dǎ yī zì 打一字）
Neither spring nor autumn are hot (give one character)