As an individual who does not partake in most of the Chinese celebrations, the only few that I am familiar with are Lunar New Year, Hungry Ghost Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival (or most commonly known as Mooncake Festival.)
Mooncake Festival is the best Chinese festival ever. On a side note, I may be slightly biased as I love the decadent mooncakes that come rolling out in celebration of the celebration.
I remember the nights when my neighbours and I would meet at the multi-purpose hall between our houses. We would flaunt the paper lanterns that we designed in art class. Some were cut in delicate patters while others were decorated with flowers and butterflies. If you viewed us from above, you would see dark sky laced with many travelling stars.
Truthfully, I never understood why Mooncakes had a festival of its own. Until a storyteller came by to my school one day and told us the beautiful story of how the festival came to be.
The story tells of an ancient time where 10 suns shone brightly in the sky. They shone a tad too brightly and their heat combined made peoples’ lives extremely difficult. The strong and the mighty Hou Yi came along and shot down nine suns, leaving one behind. A hero and a lifesaver, Hou Yi then met kind-hearted Chang E and led a happy life with her.
Now, that’s not the end of the ancient tale. The Queen of Heaven decided to give Hou Yi an elixir which would allow him to go up to heaven immediately and become a God. Hou Yi then handed the elixir to Chang E for safekeeping while he went out to hunt.
Long story short, Chang E had to drink the elixir out of desperation. As she ascended to heaven and because of the deep love she had for Hou Yi, she chose to fly to the nearest place to the Earth on the Heaven - the Moon. Missing Chang E a lot, Hou Yi consistently placed Chang E’s favourite food on tables on a full moon. It then became a custom that folk people followed to pray for good luck.
So now when I bite into the indulgent mooncake, I will always think about Chang E and hope that I get to feel a love that strong.
Nur Fathin (@nrfathyn)
MYF Intern (@myfsg)