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Mid-autumn Festival

Posted by Jingtian , 06 October 2006 · 170 views

Mid-Autumn Festival falls on August 15th on the Chinese lunar calendar each year. It is a very important traditional Chinese festival, which is a day for a gettogether of the family members to chat, eat mooncakes, etc.

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There are two legends which claim to explain the tradition of eating mooncakes. One Tang Dynasty myth holds that the earth once had 10 suns circling it. One day all 10 suns appeared at once, scorching the planet with their heat. It was thanks to a skillful archer named Hou Yi that the earth was saved. He shot down all but one of the suns. As his reward, the Heavenly Queen Mother gave Hou Yi the Elixir of Immortality, but she warned him that he must use it wisely. Hou Yi ignored her advice and, corrupted by fame and fortune, became a tyrannical leader. Chang'e, his beautiful wife, could no longer stand by and watch him abuse him power so she stole his Elixir and fled to the moon to escape his angry wrath. And thus began the legend of the beautiful woman in the moon, the Moon Fairy.

The second legend has it that during the Yuan Dynasty, an underground group led by Zhu Yuangzhang was determined to rid the country of Mongolian dominance. The moon cake was created to carry a secret11)message. When the cake was opened and the message read, an uprising was unleashed which successfully routed the Mongolians. It happened at the time of the full moon, which, some say, explains why mooncakes are eaten at this time.

Mooncakes are not for the diet-conscious as they are loaded with calories. The best way to wash down one of these sticky cakes is with a cup of Chinese tea, especially jasmine or chrysanthemum tea, which aids the digestion.

There are many famous poems about the moon in China. Here is one of them. 0) is the original Chinese version, 1)-9) are versions of English translation of it, 10)-11) are two versions of German translation of it, and 12) is a Russian version.

0). 静夜思

1).In the Still of the Night
I descry bright moonlight in front of my bed.
I suspect it to be hoary frost on the floor.
I watch the bright moon, as I tilt back my head.
I yearn, while stooping, for my homeland more.

2).A Tranquil Night
Abed, I see a silver light,
I wonder if it''s frost aground.
Looking up, I find the moon bright;
Bowing, in homesickness I''m drowned.

3).In the Quiet Night
So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed---
Could there have been a frost already?
Lifting my head to look, I found that it was moonlight.
Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.
(Tr. Witter Bynner)

4). Night Thoughts
I wake, and moonbeams play around my bed,
Glittering like hoar-frost to my wandering eyes;
Up towards the glorious moon I raise my head,
Then lay me down---and thoughts of home arise.
( Tr. Herbert A. Giles)

5). On a Quiet Night
I saw the moonlight before my couch,
And wondered if it were not the frost on the ground.
I raised my head and looked out on the mountain noon,
I bowed my head and though of my far-off home.
(TR. S. Obata)

6). The Moon Shines Everywhere
Seeing the moon before my couch so bright
I thought hoar frost had fallen from the night.
On her clear face I gaze with lifted eyes:
Then hide them full of Youth''s sweet memories.
(Tr. W.J.B. Fletcher)

7). Night Thoughts
In front of my bed the moonlight is very bright.
I wonder if that can be frost on the floor?
I list up my head and look at the full noon, the dazzling moon.
I drop my head, and think of the home of old days.
(Tr. Amy Lowell)

8). Thoughts in a Tranquil Night
Athwart the bed
I watch the moonbeams cast a trail
So bright, so cold, so frail,
That for a space it gleams
Like hoar-frost on the margin of my dreams.
I raise my head, -
The splendid moon I see:
Then droop my head,
And sink to dreams of thee -
My father land , of thee!
(Tr. L.Cranmer-Byng)

9). Nostalgia
A splash of white on my bedroom floor. Hoarfrost?
I raise my eyes to the moon, the same noon.
As scenes long past come to mind, my eyes fall again on the splash of white,
and my heart aches for home.

In fremdem Land lag ich. Weissen Glanz
Malte der Mond vor meine Lagarstaette.
Ich hob das Haupt, - ich meinte erst, es sei
Der Reif der Fruehe, was ich schimmern sah,
Dann aber wusste ich: der Mond, der Mond...
Und neigte das Gesicht zur Erde hin,
Und meine Heimat winkte mir von fern.
(Tr. Hans Bethge)

Hell scheint der Mond vor mein Bett.
Ich ueberleg, ob’s nicht Reif auf der Erde sei.
Ich hebe mein Haupt und blicke empor zum strahlenden Mond.
Ich senke mein Haupt und denke zurück an die Heimat

12). Думы тихой ночью
Ли Бо
У самой моей постели
Легла от луны дорожка.

А может быть, это иней?
Я сам хорошо не знаю.
Я голову поднимаю --
Гляжу на луну в окошко.

Я голову опускаю --
И родину вспоминаю.

December 2016

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