Beijing, 9 Sep (Zhongxin Net) -- "If you don't know the moon when you are young, you call it a white jade disk." "The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Chinese festival, a bright moon, which places people's infinite feelings.

Meng Lingfa, an associate professor at the School of Law and Sociology at Chongqing Technology and Business University, said that the Mid-Autumn Festival was an important timing node in the pre-Qin era and was finalized as a festival in the Tang Dynasty. Mooncakes are similar in appearance to the moon, and the whole family eats mooncakes together during the Mid-Autumn Festival, so mooncakes are also given the meaning of "reunion".

Over the years, the Mid-Autumn Festival, based on the original belief of moon worship, has enriched its customs, and its core theme is to look forward to reunion, celebrate a good harvest, place homesickness, and harmonize family and friends with neighbors as a sign of the full moon.

Why is the Mid-Autumn Festival called "Mid-Autumn"?

Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as "Mid-Autumn", and has titles such as "Moon Eve", "Moon Chasing Festival" and "Autumn Festival".

Data map: The picture shows the Hong'en Pavilion in Chongqing's Jiangbei District and the bright moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo by Yin Yuan

According to the Chinese astronomical calendar, the eighth month of the lunar calendar is in the middle of autumn, which is the second month of autumn, and the ancients often sorted by "Meng (Bo), Zhong, Shu, Ji", so the eighth month of the lunar calendar is also called "Mid-Autumn", and August 15 is in "Mid-Autumn", so it is called "Mid-Autumn".

As a chronograph mark, its written records may date back to the pre-Qin era. For example, "Zhou Li • Chunguan • Zongbo" contains: "The night of the Mid-Autumn Festival welcomes the cold, so is it", while his "Tianguan • Tsukazai" says "Mid-Autumn Festival, offering good qiu, Wang Nai Xing feathers".

It can be said that the "Mid-Autumn Festival" of the pre-Qin era has not yet formed a "festival", but the "Rites of Zhou" shows that the upper class has formed a relatively stable custom of gift exchange at this time, which laid a certain foundation for the development of the later Mid-Autumn Festival customs.

What is the meaning of the moon festival custom?

As a custom activity, "moon worship" originated from the nature worship of the ancients, and symbols such as toads, jade rabbits, laurel trees, and Chang'e are the corresponding imaginary products.

Relevant historical records show that the more primitive "moon festival" activity was set on the "autumnal equinox" of the dry branch calendar. As a different way of timing, the determination of the autumnal equinox is earlier than the popularity of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

With the replacement of the dry branch calendar with the summer calendar, and because the two festivals are proximing, the festival moon is gradually integrated into the Mid-Autumn Festival activities. The rituals of the ancients were complex and had hierarchical and regional differences, but their purpose was nothing more than to pray for blessings, pray for the moon, and express their hopes for family reunion and a better life.

How did the ancients worship the moon?

In ancient times, folk moon worship rituals were relatively simple.

Data map: Gansu Zhangye Hanfu enthusiasts dressed in traditional costumes hold the Mid-Autumn Festival Moon Festival ceremony to pray for blessings and good luck. Photo by Cheng Xuelei

Generally speaking, people set up incense cases in the courtyard on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, install the "Luna God" tablet, and offer seasonal melons and pastries such as watermelons, apples, pomegranates, grapes, water chestnuts, etc., and mooncakes are essential.

After the moon festival site is arranged, the main sacrifice is then in place, and the moon is sacrificed according to the order of "hymn", "incense", and "wine ceremony". After the festival, the whole family sat together to talk about homely things, drink and enjoy the moon.

With the development of the times, the entertainment of the moon festival has been greatly enhanced, and it has been expressed in the Song Dynasty. For example, Meng Yuanlao's "Tokyo Menghualu" contains: "Before the Mid-Autumn Festival... Families compete to occupy the restaurant to play the moon, Sheng song is heard from afar, and the frolic sits until dawn", very lively.

Moon viewing symbolizes family reunion?

Moon viewing is a more core collective activity of the Mid-Autumn Festival, which was roughly formed in the Wei and Jin dynasties and flourished in the Tang and Song dynasties. Legend has it that the custom of moon viewing is related to the myth of "Chang'e" and has the meaning of symbolizing family reunion.

In fact, moon viewing is an extension of the "moon festival". The Book of Rites and Rituals stipulates: "The royal palace, the day of the festival; Night light, Matsuri moon also. Han Zhengxuan's note: "Yeming, Moon Altar." Tang Kong Yingda Shu: "The night is bright, and the name of the altar of the moon is also." ”

In addition to the custom of moon viewing, game behaviors such as pitching pots, drumming and passing flowers, and singing poetry and singing also enrich the collective activities of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and now Mid-Autumn Festival outings have become an important choice for people.

Why drink osmanthus wine?

Osmanthus wine has a very long history in China, from Qu Yuan's "Nine Songs • Eastern Emperor Taiyi" wrote "Hui cuisine steamed Xi Lan Yuan, Dian Gui wine Xi pepper pulp" can be known that people were brewing osmanthus wine during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods.

Data map: On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a bright full moon hangs high over Nanjing. Photo by China News Agency reporter Lu Bo

When and where the custom of drinking osmanthus wine during the Mid-Autumn Festival originated is still inconclusive, but from the existing ancient poems can be extrapolated to Tang or before, such as Yan Zhenqing wrote: "Gui wine leads poetry, Lan Lu illuminates the customer's love", and the myth of "Wu Gang Cutting Gui" is also often used to explain the origin of osmanthus wine.

Osmanthus itself is also a taste of Chinese medicine, commonly known as osmanthus is the length of a hundred medicines, soaked in osmanthus wine has the effect of appetizing and awakening, strengthening the spleen and replenishing deficiency, because of the saying "drink life of a thousand years". Drinking osmanthus wine on the reunion day of the Mid-Autumn Festival not only has the practical effect of strengthening the body, but also has the meaning of praying to the moon god for longevity.

Ancient books describe the brewing method of osmanthus wine. One is "osmanthus bubble wine", that is, fresh osmanthus soaked in white wine; One is "osmanthus brewing", in which the harvested osmanthus flowers are mixed with steamed glutinous rice and other raw materials and fermented in a jar.

What are the types of mooncakes?

Eating mooncakes is the most typical collective custom of the current Mid-Autumn Festival. From the perspective of myths and legends, people regard the "Taishi cake" used to sacrifice Wen Zhong in Jiangsu and Zhejiang during the Yin Shang period as the origin of mooncakes, but there is no historical support.

Wu Zimu of the Southern Song Dynasty wrote "mooncakes" in volume 16 of the Mengli Record, and the elaborate of the same period also contained "mooncakes" in volume 6 of the "Old Matters of Wulin", "Steaming for Food", so mooncakes appeared in the Song Dynasty.

Later, mooncakes gradually became a seasonal food, and developed a variety of styles, such as Cantonese, Jin, Beijing, Su, etc., as an important seasonal gift, it also played a positive role in connecting the feelings between relatives and friends.

As the saying goes: "August 15 is full, and the mooncakes of the Mid-Autumn Festival are fragrant and sweet". The shape of the mooncake is similar to the moon in the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the whole family gathers together to enjoy the moon eclipse cake, so it is given the meaning of "reunion".

What do these customs mean?

Moon viewing and eating mooncakes are typical customs of the Mid-Autumn Festival, in addition, there are relatively unique folk activities in different regions and different ethnic groups, but their formation is not achieved overnight, but is collectively passed down in a relatively long process of development.

Data map: January mooncake shop in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, staff use traditional skills to make handmade mooncakes. Photo by China News Agency reporter Wu Junjie

For example, it is popular to eat taro in the mid-autumn festival in the Chaoshan area; Jiangxi Ji'an has the custom of burning crockpots with straw and pouring vinegar to make it fragrant during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and in Beijing, there is a Mid-Autumn Festival custom of offering rabbits, and later, "rabbit grandpa" gradually evolved into children's toys at specific times.

In short, the festive meaning of the Mid-Autumn Festival contains multiple elements such as "prayer", "gratitude", "meeting relatives", "competition" and "entertainment", which is an important reference for people to investigate the personality of regional or national culture.

Mid-Autumn Festival also to enjoy the lanterns?

In people's impression, the Lantern Festival is to enjoy the lanterns, in fact, in China's festivals, people usually refer to the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival as the "Three Great Lantern Festivals". Compared with the Lantern Festival, the Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival have much less "lantern" elements.

The ancient book's record of the custom of "watching lanterns" during the Mid-Autumn Festival appeared earlier in Song Zhoumi's "Old Stories of Wulin", and its third volume "Mid-Autumn Festival" wrote: "On this night, Zhejiang put hundreds of thousands of 'little red' sheepskin small water lamps, floating on the surface of the water, rotten as stars, and full of observers." ”

Combined with literature and fieldwork, it can be seen that among the various "lights" of the Mid-Autumn Festival, in addition to grapefruit lamps, there are also pumpkin lanterns, orange lanterns, etc., while burning "tower lamps", hanging "grass lanterns", playing "fruit lanterns", etc. are intended to drive away ghosts and ward off evil spirits.

The production, use mode and meaning of these "lamps" are completely different from the Lantern Festival. They are mostly made of real melons and building materials, largely to avoid evil and to highlight a good harvest. (End)