Chinese Cultural Story: Chang’e Flying to the Moon (Part One)
The Mid-Autumn Festival, aka. Moon Festival, is a harvest festival celebrated by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with full moon at night, corresponding to late September to early October of the Gregorian calendar with a full moon at night.
The most famous Mid-Autumn Festival story is Chang’e flying to the Moon. Before Chang’e flying to the Moon, there is another story that you should know first. It is called Houyi shot the Suns.
Once upon a time, there were ten tree-leg birds. The birds were the sons of the Eastern Emperor of heaven. The ten birds emitted fires to light the world and they took turns on duty to go to alight the sky everyday. The Eastern Emperor of the heaven and his wife lived with their ten sons on the edge of the East Sea.
Everything on the Earth was in harmony until one day the ten birds got bored. The birds wanted to find something interesting that they could do together such as traveling with each other and playing with each other in the sky. Therefore, when they needed to light the Earth, they went to the sky together this time.
The power and energy of the heat came from the ten birds burned plants, houses, crops, and animals and people on the Earth. All the rivers and lakes dried up as well. Human beings and other living creature on the Earth were suffering. There was nowhere to hide and there were less and less water available.
There was a great archer, Houyi, lived in the heaven. He tried to persuade the birds. The naughty birds did not listen to people’s begging. Houyi threatened the birds that id they did not come off the sky and take turns on duty back to before, he would shoot them down from the Sky. However, the birds were laughing at Houyi and they did not believe that he would kill them because their father was the Eastern Emperor of the heaven. If Houyi killed them, he would get punishment. Therefore, they kept playing and playing jokes on Houyi.
At last, Houyi lost his patience. He drew his bow, picked a target, and pulled his bow. One of the birds was shot down. The other nine birds got angery after they saw Houyi shot one of their brothers down. They said they were going to kill everything on the Earth and started burning their fires larger. But, Houyi got angery too and did not give them the chance to continue to harm the Earth. He started shooting the birds down from the sky one after another until there was only one left. This bird got frightened and became the only one go to the Sky everyday. He is the Sun we have now.
However, the Eastern Emperor of the heaven was not happy with Houyi’s solution to save the Earth. Therefore, he banished Houyi to the Earth and live as a human being.