The Chinese Mid-Autumn festival: fertility, the moon, birth and immortality

Chinese mid-autumn festival

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in the Chinese calendar. The annual harvest festival is celebrated by China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and a number of other Asian countries on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar which, in the Georgian calendar, falls on 4th October in 2017.

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival always falls on a full moon and one of the highlights of the Mid-Autumn Festival is to worship the moon, which is the symbol of yin and is associated with soft feminine qualities. In contrast, the fierce intensity of the sun resembles yang, the masculine energy.

What does the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival have to do with fertility and birth?

In ancient China, the Zhuang people believed that the moon was the partner of the sun and that the stars were their offspring. When the moon was full it was symbolic of the moon being pregnant, which then waned into the crescent moon after giving birth to the stars.

It was also believed that rejuvenation was associated with the moon and water and that the monthly female menstruation is connected to this concept, calling it “monthly water”. Many Chinese women worship the full moon on this day and the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival.

Chang’e: The Moon Goddess of Immortality

At the centre of this is the famous Chinese lunar deity, Chang’e, known as the moon Goddess of immortality. Offerings of fruit and mooncakes are made to Chang’e on the night of the Moon Festival.

One version of the story of how Chang’e came to be the lunar deity, as described in Lihui Yang’s Handbook of Chinese Mythology, is as follows:

In the ancient past, there was a hero named Hou Yi who was excellent at archery. His wife was Chang’e. One year, the ten suns rose in the sky together, causing great disaster to people. Yi shot down nine of the suns and left only one to provide light.

An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality (a magical potion). Yi did not want to leave Chang’e and be immortal without her, so he let Chang’e keep the elixir. But Peng Meng, one of his apprentices, knew this secret. So, on the fifteenth of August in the lunar calendar, when Yi went hunting, Peng Meng broke into Yi’s house and forced Chang’e to give the elixir to him. Chang’e refused to do so. Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky.

Since she loved her husband very much and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang’e liked in the yard and gave sacrifices to his wife. People soon learned about these activities, and since they also were sympathetic to Chang’e they participated in these sacrifices with Yi.

Babies born on or around the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

If you’re expecting a baby on or around this years’ Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, you could look to baby names with meanings symbolising the moon from China and around the world. Here are some of our favourites:

Baby girl names’ with a meaning connected to the moon

Yue: Chinese – meaning moon

Qiuyue: Chinese – meaning autumn moon

Cyra: Muslim – meaning moon

Lena: European – meaning moonlight

Aylin: Turkish – meaning moon halo

Baby boy names’ with a meaning connected to the moon

Hao: Chinese – meaning clear white moon

Munir: Muslim – meaning moon’s light

Muraco: American – meaning white moon

Badar: Arabic – meaning full moon.

Mayar: Turkish – meaning moon glow

As you can see, you can find baby name inspiration in just about everything. All you need is a bit of creativity, an open mind and in-depth baby naming app like Namey to help you.

Happy Mid-Autumn to all of our Chinese Namey users!

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