Festival Of Light Of 2009, Emmen Netherlands
. I know it has been a while ago but in 2009 the Chinese festival of lights (Mid Autumn festival, lantern festival) came to the Netherlands and landed in a Zoo in Emmen. We went to see it and I just wanted to write a little history about the festival.
The historians are not 100% sure when it started but they are sure it is a very old festival. Most of them are reasonably sure it is a harvest festival that dates back more then 3000 years to the moon worshiping that happened in the Shang Dynasty in China. This festival is held on the 15 day of the eight month of the Chinese calendar. In the Zhou dynasty it the festival spread to adjoining countries. Now days Malaysia, Singapore, India etc… Where the festivals all have got different names.
This festival is one of the most important holidays in China. This together with the Chinese new year and the winter soloists. It is so important to most people that in a lot of Asian countries it is a legal holiday.
How to celebrate it. The calibration of this festival happens in a lot of different ways. The main one is eating moon cakes and pomelos under the moon light with friends and family. But there are some others depending on the region you’re in or from.
One theme that runs thru most of these is light. Some of examples of these are carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers and floating sky lanterns. The lanterns can become extremely celebrated in shape and size. When I was at one of the festivals there were dragons of 300 Meters long light by 100 lights. But also smaller animals where shown insects , turtles etc.. All were created from paper and very fragile but beautiful to see.
But it does not always have to be lights some of the other celebrations are burning incense, planting trees, collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members , fire dragon dances, and since the 80s in Taiwan barbecuing meat outside has become a way of celebrating the festival.
There are a lot of legends attached to this festival I will highlight two a Chinese and a Vietnamese.
One of the Chinese legends is the legend of Houyi and Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality. Another version of the legend states that Houyi was an immortal and Chang’e was a beautiful young girl, working in the palace of the Jade Emperor as an attendant to the Queen Mother of the West. Houyi aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, who then slandered him before the Jade Emperor. Houyi and his wife, Chang’e, were subsequently banished from heaven. They were forced to live on Earth. Houyi had to hunt to survive and became a skilled and famous archer.
One of the Vietnamese legends is the legend of Cuoi, whose wife accidentally urinated on a sacred banyan tree, taking him with it to the Moon. Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns and participate in a procession to show Cui the way to Earth.