The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese characters above) is one of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Chinese legends say that the moon is at its brightest and roundest on this day. Based on the GREgorian calendar, this year's August Moon Festival will be held on September 12.
The August Moon Festival is often called the Women's Festival. The moon (Chinese character on right) symbolizes elegance and beauty. While westerners worship the sun (yang or male) for its power, people in the Far East admire the moon. The moon is the 'yin' or female principle and it is a trusted friend. Chinese parents often name their daughters after the moon, in hope that they will be as lovely as the moon.
The Moon FairyLady - 'Chang Er'
In fact, many ancient August Moon folktales are about a moon maiden. On the 15th night of the 8th lunar moon, little children on earth can see a lady on the moon.
The story about the lady takes place around 2170 B.C. At that time, the earth had ten suns circling it, each taking its turn to illuminate to the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong and tyrannical archer named Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However, his beautiful wife Chang E drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband's tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew all they way to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he refused to shoot down the moon.
People believed that the lady was a god who lived in the moon that made the moon shine. Girls who wanted to be a beauty and have a handsome husband should worship the moon. And on this magical occasion, children who make wishes to the Lady on the Moon will find their dreams come true.
The wood cutter - Wu Kang
Wu Kang was a shiftless fellow who changed apprenticeships all the time. One day he decided that he wanted to be an immortal, so he went to live in the mountains where he importuned an immortal to teach him. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness, but after three days his characteristic restlessness returned and Wu Kang asked the immortal to teach him something else. So the immortal to taught him chess, but after a short while Wu Kang's enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Kang was given the books of immortality to study. Of course, Wu Kang became bored within a few days, and asked if they could travel to some new and exciting place. Angered with Wu Kang's impatience, the master banished Wu Kang to the Moon Palace telling him that he must cut down a huge cassia tree before he could return to earth. Though Wu Kang chopped day and night, the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and thus he is up there chopping still.