【Learn Chinese】Mid-Autumn Festival Vocabulary
|One of the most important holidays in Chinese culture is the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival. The Chinese name is 中秋节 (zhōng qiū jié) and literally translates to mid-autum festival.
中秋节 is a time to gather with family and friends under the full moon sky while eating moon cake.
Moon Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, so the date on the Gregorian calendar is different from year to year, but it is always on the full moon. This year it’s September 10.
History of Moon Festival
As with most Chinese festivals, there is a story to go along with Moon Festival. There are many versions of the Moon Festival legend, but most of them involve the archer Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e.
Many years ago, there were ten suns in the sky. Crops could not grow and rivers ran dry, so the people were dying of hunger and thirst. Hou Yi took his bow and arrows and shot down nine of the ten suns, saving the people.
As a reward, the Western Queen Mother gave Hou Yi a potion. If Hou Yi shares that potion with his wife, they will both live forever, but if only one of them takes the potion, he or she will become a god.
Hou Yi and Chang’e plan to take the potion together. But one of Hou Yi’s enemies, Feng Meng, hears about the potion and plans to steal it. One night, on a full moon, Feng Meng kills Hou Yi, then forces Chang’e to give him the potion.
Rather than give the evil man the potion, Chang’e drinks it all herself. She starts to rise into heaven, but she feels a close connection to the world of the mortals, and wants to stay close to them, so she stops at the moon, the closest body to earth.
The traditional food of Moon Festival is Moon Cake, which is a pastry stuffed with filling such as egg yolk, lotus seed paste, red bean paste, coconut, walnuts, or dates. The tops of Moon cakes usually have Chinese characters representing longevity or harmony.
Moon Festival Vocabulary
Here are some Mandarin phrases for Mid-Autumn Festival:
Moon Festival - zhōng qiū jié - 中秋节
Hou Yi - Hòu Yì - 后羿
Chang'e - Cháng'é - 嫦娥
moon cake - yuè bǐng - 月饼
admiring the moon - shǎng yuè - 赏月
reunion - tuán yuán - 团圆
barbecue - kǎo ròu - 烤肉
pomelo fruit – yòuzi - 柚子
give presents – sònglǐ - 送礼