The Mid-Autumn Festival, the second-largest folk festival in the Chinese festival system next to the Spring Festival, has spawned countless legends and poems over the centuries.
“How long will the full moon appear? Wine cup in hand, I ask the sky. I do not know what time of the year ‘Twould be tonight in the palace on high.”
In fact, the Mid-Autumn Festival is essentially the “Chinese Ritual Moon Festival”, and the worship of the moon by the Chinese people has started since ancient times. “The lonely moon goddess, spreads her ample sleeves, To dance for these loyal souls in infinite space.”
“Chang’e is dancing in the long sky for ten thousand miles.” From Chang’e Flying to the Moon to the lunar exploration program, for more than 2,000 years, people have never paid less attention to the moon.
Mid-Autumn Festival was popularized during the Han Dynasty, a period of economic and cultural exchange and integration, when cultural exchanges across the country led to the fusion and spread of festival customs.
The term “Zhong Qiu (mid-autumn, 中秋)” was first written down in Han Dynasty literature, and the Zhou Li between the two Han dynasties recorded that during the pre-Qin period, there were activities such as “worshiping the moon at the Qiufen”.
After the Sui and Tang dynasties, people’s astronomical knowledge became richer and their sense of awe of the moon gradually faded away. During the Tang Dynasty, the mid-autumn festival was already popular in the north of China.
The mid-autumn moon viewing was extremely popular in Chang’an during the Tang Dynasty, and many famous poets wrote poems about the moon. Many poets wrote poems about the moon and combined the mid-autumn festival with mythological stories such as Chang’e flying to the moon, Wu Gang cuts the laurel and Jade rabbit pounding medicine, making it full of romance.
The Tang and Song dynasties are considered to be the period when the festival of Mid-Autumn Festival took shape. Chanting poems, watching the tide, enjoying lanterns, drinking wine, eating crabs and mooncakes …… tracing Tang poems and Song lyrics and Song notes, we can get a glimpse of the rich and diverse mid-autumn customs of the time.
During the Northern Song Dynasty, the Mid-Autumn Festival had become a popular folk festival and was officially designated as the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It seems that on this day, people were able to put aside all their sorrows and indulge in the joy of enjoying the moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival. From the royal family to the poor people, everyone sang and sang poetry to the moon, a harmonious scene. In addition to drinking and playing, people also gradually developed expectations of the moon, adding this vision to the moon viewing.
By the Ming Dynasty, Mid-Autumn had become one of the major Chinese folk festivals. There was also a great change in the customs. In addition to enjoying the moon, the common people were more concerned with worshipping the moon and praying for blessings on this day of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
On this day, married women return to their mothers’ homes for the festival, people in faraway places return home on time for the festival, neighbors and friends greet each other, send each other moon cakes and fruits, and send sincere blessings.
After a long history of changes, the culture of the Mid-Autumn Festival handed down from ancient times has been gradually forgotten, and there is only one moon cake left to eat. But there is no doubt about the status of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Nowadays, people are too busy to spend more time with their families, so the Mid-Autumn Festival becomes a good opportunity for us to spend not the Mid-Autumn Festival, but a reunion.
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