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[ PART I ]

中秋節 The Mid-Autumn Festival

Lengend I :

No one can be sure of the origin of the Harvest Moon Festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival). The origin was romanticised by the legendary story of Chang Er, who was believed to have taken a pill, become a fairy and flown to the moon to escape from the pursuit of her husband. It was thought that we could see Chang Er on the moon when it is at its brightest in mid-autumn (i.e. the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar). The exact date in the Western calendar changes from year to year but it is approximately in September.

This festival is still one of the most widely celebrated festivals for the Chinese anywhere in the world. It is a time for family reunion; usually a big and delicious meal is prepared for all members of the family. The Harvest Moon Festival is also associated with passing on messages for revolution through inserting a note in moon cakes. For generations, moon cakes have been made with sweet fillings of nuts, mashed red beans, lotus-seed paste or Chinese dates, wrapped in a pastry. Sometimes a cooked egg yolk can be found in the middle of the rich tasting dessert.


Lengend II :

The Chinese speak of a lady in the Moon, named Chang Er. She was the beautiful daughter of King Yao, the king who ruled China in approximately 2100 B.C.

Remembered as a very wise king, legends say that during King Yao's rule, ten troublesome suns appeared in the sky. Because the intense heat from so many suns endangered crops, wildlife and the very existence of his people, King Yao asked a famous archer named Houyi to shoot down nine of the ten suns. Successful, the archer asked for the hand of the Emperor's daughter, Chang Er, as a reward. Chang Er did not want to marry Houyi because she was already in love with someone else, and she felt that he was beneath her rank and beauty. Despite her reservations, they soon married. Houyi loved Chang Er and took good care of her. But she remained cold and indifferent to him.

Meanwhile, the king was worried the extra suns would appear again and cause a new disaster. In order to ensure a perpetual guard against this threat, King Yao gave Houyi a potion for eternal life. However, the vain Chang Er learned of this potion and wanted to use it to preserve her youth. Hoping to remain the most beautiful woman in the world forever, Chang Er swallowed the magic elixer in one quick gulp. At once, she felt her body becoming lighter and lighter. High into the air she soared, only stopping when she reached the Moon. Storytellers remind those who may look to the mirror too often, that Chang Er was exiled to the Moon forever, as punishment for her vanity.



The Seventh Eve - Chinese Valentine's Day

Chinese Valentine's Day is on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar.

Legend I :

The names of the two characters, cowherd and weaving maid, first appeared in the Chinese classic "Book of Songs", dating back to the 12th century B.C.. They are also the names of two stars in the night sky that had nothing to do with any romantic legends until the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), when they appeared in a long poem about tragic love. Located at opposite ends of the Milky Way, they are rarely seen on the same night.

The legend was written by Liang Yinyun during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589). Liang's weaving maid is one of the daughters of the Emperor of Heaven who resides at the eastern end of the Milky Way. His cowherd is located at the western end.

According to the story, the weaving maid became lax in her weaving duties after her father married her off to the cowherd. As punishment for such irresponsible behavior, the Emperor of Heaven banished them to their respective positions in the night sky, where they are allowed to meet just once a year.

Chong Lin fleshed that basic story out a few years later. He established the seventh day of the seventh lunar month as the date the couple met each other. After this, the legend spread widely by word of mouth and down through the generations. It is said that on the day of the lovers' meeting, magpies form a bridge on the Milky Way and the couple walk along it to meet at its center. If it rains that night, it is the tears of the embracing couple.



Legend I I :

A love story for this day is about the 7th daughter of Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd. The Emperor separated them. The 7th daughter was forced to move to the star Vega and the cowherd moved to the star Altair. They are allowed to meet only once a year on the day of 7th day of 7th lunar month.

The story began from the good-looking poor orphaned boy living with his elder brother and sister-in-law. After his parents past away, his brother inherited the house and the land. The boy owned an old ox. He needed to work on the farm's field with the ox everyday. So he was called a cowherd. His daily life was just like in a Cinderella story.

The 7th daughter of Emperor is good at handcrafting, especially weaving clothing. So she was called a Weaving Maid. The Emperor likes her skill to weave clouds and rainbows to beautify the world.

The ox was actually an immortal from the Heaven. He made mistakes in the Heaven and was punished as an ox in the Earth. One day, the ox suddenly said to the cowherd, "You are a nice person. If you want to get married, go to the brook and your wish will be come true." The cowherd went to the brook and saw all 7 pretty daughters of Emperor came down from Heaven and took a bath in there. Fascinated by the youngest and also the most beautiful one, he took away her fairy clothes secretly. The other six fairies went away after bath. The youngest couldn't fly back without her fairy clothes. Then the cowherd appeared and told her that he would not return her clothes unless she promised to be his wife. After a little hesitation and with a mixture of shyness and eagerness, she agreed to the request from this handsome man. So they married and had two children two years later.

One day, the old ox was dying and told the cowherd that he should keep his hide for emergency purpose.

The Emperor found the sky's not that beautiful as before without the 7th daughter weaving clouds and rainbows. He wanted his daughter's grandmother to find the missing daughter and to bring her back. While the 7th princess was flying to the Heaven with her grandmother, the cowboy wore the ox hide, took his children in two bamboo baskets with his wife's old fairy clothes and chased after his wife in the sky. The grandmother made a milky way in the sky with her hairpin, which kept them separated. The 7th princess was moved to the star Vega (The swooping - Eagle) in the Lyra (Harp) constellation. And the cowherd with his two children stayed in the star Altair (Flying one) in the Aquila (Eagle) constellation. The star of Vega is also known as the Weaving Maid Star and the star of Altair is as the Cowherd Star in China.

Magpies were moved by their true love and many of them gathered and formed a bridge for the couple to meet in the evening of the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which is the day the Emperor allowed them to meet once a year.

They said that it's hard to find a magpie on Chinese Valentine's Day in China, because all magpies fly to make the bridge for the Weaving Maid and Cowherd. The one thing to prove that is the feathers on the head of the magpies are much lesser after the Chinese Valentine's Day. If the night Chinese Valentine's Day rains, the rain are the tears of the Weaving Maid and Cowherd.

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