Science and Nature

What is the Moon Competition? A scholar of Chinese religions explains.

Fireworks on Sept. 19, 2021, mark the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, in Wuxi, China.

Fireworks on Sept. 19, 2021, label the Mid-Autumn Competition, usually identified because the Moon Competition, in Wuxi, China.
(Image credit: Xuan Yueliang/VCG via Getty Pictures)

This article became once in the starting up printed at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to’s Educated Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Mario Poceski, Professor of Buddhist Studies and Chinese Religions, College of Florida

With the arrival of September and hints of cooler temperatures furthermore comes one of critical ragged gala’s in the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Competition, or Zhongqiu jie (中秋節), usually identified because the Moon Competition.

Presently of the year, the Chinese store down the road from our residence in Gainesville, Florida, is stocked with mooncakes, identified in Chinese as yuebing (月餅). The identical is nice of Chinese stores all the plot thru the realm. There would possibly maybe be even the selection on the present time of buying for these desserts from online retailers a lot like Amazon.

These ragged delicacies are readied in anticipation of the competition, seen on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Here is a time for family and friends to receive, watch the beefy moon and bask in mooncakes and varied delicacies. Varied festivity highlights embody public lantern displays, dance parties, ragged performances and savor of the moon goddess and varied deities.

Resulting from the central theme of family reunion, infrequently the competition conjures up comparison to Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Linked: Harvest Moon 2021: When and the particular plot to plan September’s beefy moon

Extra: Straightforward the particular plot to characterize the moon utilizing a digital camera: ideas, equipment, and settings

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Moon cakes on display at Laojun Mountain on Sept. 20, 2021, during celebrations of the Moon Festival.

Moon cakes on define at Laojun Mountain on Sept. 20, 2021, one day of celebrations of the Moon Competition. (Image credit: VCG via Getty Pictures)

Mooncakes: Custom and innovation

The gifting and eating of mooncakes is arguably essentially the most emblematic characteristic of the competition. The spherical shape of the mooncake is supposed to evoke a characterize of the beefy moon. The roundness of the beefy moon, in flip, symbolizes wholeness; by extension, it conveys a sense of non secular contentment, coming collectively and reunion.

Veritably, mooncakes approach with ragged fillings, a lot like crimson bean or white lotus seed paste. There are many regional diversifications, a few of which receive a preserved egg yolk in the center. The yellow egg yolk adds one other layer of symbolism, because it resembles the spherical moon in the sky.

Moreover, there are contemporary flavors a lot like chocolate, coffee or green tea. It is even that it’s most likely you’ll maybe well presumably also imagine to receive ice cream mooncakes. These are created by industrial ice cream companies in repeat to faucet into the lucrative mooncake market and cater to contemporary tastes.

As a scholar of Chinese religions, I am seriously eager in the legends related to the origins of the competition. These are principal parts of standard lore, rooted in China’s long historic past and rich cultural traditions.

Customarily, the Mid-Autumn Competition is related to the usual legend about Chang’e (嫦娥), the goddess of the moon. The earliest versions of the myth would maybe maybe well also be traced advantage to the Warring States, a vital historic duration between 475-221 B.C., marked by recurrent wrestle, bureaucratic reforms and political consolidation.

Offerings are made to the moon goddess Chang'e during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

(Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art work)

Chang’e is expounded to have stolen the elixir of immortality from her husband, Yi, the gigantic archer and hero of Chinese mythology. She then escaped to the moon, where she became once condemned to a lonely existence.

Later versions of the myth, silent told this day, effect a more flattering image of the goddess. She is described as a mannequin of female beauty and fashion. She digests the elixir totally in repeat to prevent it from falling in the hands of an spoiled person. She then chooses the moon as her immortal plan condo, to be stop to her loved husband.

On his section, Yi makes sacrifices to his departed wife that characteristic cakes and fruits. The native of us sympathize with him and furthermore delivery making the identical choices.

To on the present time, Chinese of us proceed this tradition, making choices of mooncakes in commemoration of the goddess as they designate needs or pray for familial solidarity and harmony.

Historical background

Within the agricultural society of premodern China, the Mid-Autumn Competition became once linked with harvesting season celebrations.

The time duration “mid-autumn,” which grew to develop into the title of the competition, seems in “Zhou li” (周禮), or the Rites of Zhou. Here is without doubt one of the indispensable early Confucian classics, the core texts that constitute the principle canon of classical Confucianism. The earliest historic past of the competition is unsure, but students have shown that its social gathering already took situation one day of the Tang expertise that lasted from 618-907 A.D., and increased in reputation one day of the later imperial duration.

Celebrations in varied Asian nations

The Mid-Autumn Competition is furthermore well-known in Asian nations beyond China, besides to among the Chinese diaspora in varied parts of the realm. Here is amazingly the case with Southeast Asian nations with trim ethnically Chinese populations, a lot like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

It is furthermore a necessary competition in Vietnam. Known as Tết Trung Thu, it’s basically well-known because the adolescents’s competition and is related to queer Vietnamese legends.

Moreover moon staring at and the ever effect mooncakes, among its queer aspects are the performances of ragged dances and the lanterns carried by adolescents, as they hobble beneath the glow of the beefy moon with their gentle illuminating the path.

This article is republished from The Conversation beneath a Ingenious Commons license. Be taught the fashioned article.

Discover the total Educated Voices factors and debates — and develop into section of the dialogue — on Fb and Twitter. The views expressed are these of the author and construct not necessarily reflect the views of the author.

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