Origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival

The 24-year-old informant is originally from Rhode Island, but currently resides in New York, NY. Her parents are both from China, making her a first-generation American Born Chinese. This story was one that she heard as a child and has been engrained in her mind ever since.

“A long, long time ago, there was a man—a great archer—and his wife, a beautiful maiden. One day, 10 suns rose in the sky, which threatened to scorch the entire earth. So, in retaliation, the archer shot 9 of the 10 suns down. Because of this, he became a celebrity in his village and in nearby villages as well. For this deed, he was rewarded a special elixir of immortality by the goddess of the sun. One day, when the archer’s wife was home alone, thieves broke into the house to steal the elixir of immortality. Because the wife did not want the thieves to steal it—she drank it all herself before any of the thieves could get to it. As a result, she immediately floated up to the heavens and situated herself on the moon because it’s the closest place to earth—‘cause she wanted to be as close to her husband as possible, and she became the new goddess of the Moon. The archer was so sad that he left food for her as a sacrifice, and thus created the traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival.”

This story is a very notable myth regarding the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is the most commonly told origin story for this holiday. Other versions of the story say that the archer becomes the Sun because he is able to shoot down 9 of the 10 suns, and thus describe the origins of both the Sun and the Moon.