There’s more to the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu Jie, 中秋节) than a nice, long weekend and random boxes of semi-edible mooncakes – here are ten facts about the holiday you probably didn’t know:
1. Beijing’s totem, Tu’Er Ye ("General Rabbit"), is closely related to the mythology surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival. According to the legend the capital was once struck by a plague – nearly every household was affected and no medicine seemed to make a difference. Chang’e (the moon goddess), seeing the suffering and prayers of the people, felt anguish; told Jade Rabbit to go down among the mortals to cure them. He took the form of a young girl, went household to household to heal the plague-ridden, refused to accept any gifts/compensation except clothes. Then, every time he went to a new place, he would wear a new outfit/guise – sometimes as a man, sometimes as a woman – and he rode horses, deer, lions and tigers around the city to reach as many plague sufferers as possible. Only after he finished healing everybody did he return to the Moon Palace and today Beijingers traditionally buy small statues of Tu’Er Ye around the Mid-Autumn Festival for good luck.
Click here to find out the remaining nine fun facts about the Mid-Autumn Festival.
This post first appeared on beijingkids on September 11, 2011.
Photo courtesy of VisualDensity (Flickr)