The Legend and Poetry on the Moon Festival

Today (21. 09. 2021), a traditional festival is celebrated in China with the beautiful full moon in the sky and the delicious moon cakes in the hand. The festival is called the Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival), that falls on the 15th day of the eighth month according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

A legend about the festival tells a story of a fairy maiden named Chang’e, who flew to the moon and lives hence there with a cute white rabbit. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, family members would get together to enjoy the moon (which is supposed to be bigger and brighter than usual) and the different-styled mooncakes. By gazing at the full moon where the moon goddess Chang’e stays, it is believed that any wish will be fulfilled.

It is a time for melancholy poetry on homesickness, too. One of the famous poems was written by SU Shi (1037-1101) in Song Dynasty:

 

《水调歌头·明月几时有》

明月几时有, 把酒问青天。

(Míng yuè jǐ shí yǒu, bǎ jiǔ wèn qīng tiān.)

 

When comes the moon, clear and bright?

With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the clear sky.

 

不知天上宫阙, 今夕是何年。

(Bù zhī tiān shàng gōng jué, jīn xī shì hé nián.)

 

This night in the heaven,

I wonder at which era it is?

 

我欲乘风归去, 又恐琼楼玉宇, 高处不胜寒。

(Wǒ yù chéng fēng guī qù, yòu kǒng qióng lóu yù yǔ, gāo chù bù shèng hán.)

 

I want to ride the wind to fly there,

But fear the crystal and jade mansions

Are much too high and cold for me.

 

起舞弄清影, 何似在人间。

(Qǐ wǔ nòng qīng yǐng, hé sì zài rén jiān.)

 

Dancing with my moonlit shadow,

I feel like being in the celestial world.

 

转朱阁, 低绮户, 照无眠。

(Zhuǎn zhū gé, dī qǐ hù, zhào wú mián.)

 

The moon rounds the red mansion,

Stoops to silk-pad doors and

Shines upon the sleepless.

 

不应有恨, 何事长向别时圆。

(Bù yìng yǒu hèn, hé shì zhǎng xiàng bié shí yuán.)

 

Bearing no grudge,

Why does it turn so round just when the beloved ones have to part?

 

人有悲欢离合, 月有阴晴圆缺, 此事古难全。

(Rén yǒu bēi huān lí hé, yuè yǒu yīn qíng yuán quē, cǐ shì gǔ nán quán.)

 

There is sorrow, joy, departure and reunion in the world,

There is dim, bright, round or crescent for the moon,

Such is the imperfection since the beginning of time.

 

但愿人长久, 千里共婵娟。

(Dàn yuàn rén cháng jiǔ, qiān lǐ gòng chán juān.)

 

May we all be blessed with long-lasting reunion,

Sharing the beauty of the full moon together,

Even though being thousands of miles apart.

 

Enjoy the Moon Festival!

 

 

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