ZhongQiuJie: Chang’E


Chinese Characters (Simplified): 中秋节
Chinese Characters (Traditional): 中秋節
Romanization: zhōngqiūjiě
Transliteration: Middle – Autumn – Holiday
Free Translation: Mid-Autumn Festival


Informant: Chang e feng yue [嫦娥?月 (Chang’e Fengyue)] is uh, so there is – I, so I was reading this today, but somehow story is a little different from what I know. So what I know is that Chang’e is the lady, and her husband is a man. They don’t see each other until the moon day, so that is the day they can see each other. Chang’e is the name of this lady. Fengyue Feng yue means uh running with the moon. So when you In China, sometimes they have a drawing of the moon, bright moon, then have this lady, beautiful have beautiful clothes and kind of like.. next to the moon, and also have a small rabbit next to her. That’s a kind of a traditional character and picture, we call it Chang’e Fengyue. Chang’e that’s her name. Feng means run, yue means moon. Basically fly to the moon, and she will has the ancient clothes. Which is like beautiful long dress, 是唐代 Tang Dynasty clothes. All those really really long sleeves, you can’t see your hand, or if you do a like Tang Dynasty clothes thing you’ll probably see.

So it’s kind of interesting, uh besides all the serious part, right – eat mooncake, stuff like that. Also have, this kind of like, tale.

Her husband has a name, say they are 10 sun in the earth, so he shooting down 9, only left 1. One we are having now. 

Me: Oh! like the Chinese Archer man? [Houyi]

Informant: Right right, his wife is Chang E. And so he has a, some kind of medicine, that if you eat it you will live forever. But his wife steal it and ate it. Now, she’s going to live forever, and he wouldn’t. So somehow, I don’t remember the story exactly, and then she is now living in the other side not on the Earth, with the moon and with the rabbit and so they began to see each other once a year at 中秋节。

Informant: Since it’s a story, so it varies. That’s the part, they tell the story to foreigners. I mean, because sometimes the foreigners will ask, I mean, foreigners to Chinese. Will ask, hey what is ZhongQiuJie mean, what do you do. And sometimes they just tell this story. 

Me: Wait they made this story for foreigners?

Informant: Uhh they have this whole story even before the foreigners. but uh, since, in the past, nobody cares about Chinese ZhongQiuJie, but now with the more open to Western, more communication, everything, uhh so from time to time the foreigner will ask about this. So they say ok, we’ll just tell them this.


Q: Was there a point as a kid where you first started celebrating or learned about it?

A: Oh ever since I can remember things, it’s always every year that way.

Context of Performance: Collected from an in-person conversation. 

Personal Thoughts:

This particular story is very interesting to me because it displays a relationship between women and the moon. In many cultures across the world, women are associated with the moon. However, the typical associations are about witchcraft, menstrual cycles, or perhaps goddess representing the moon. So it was a great shock to see a story about a woman LIVING ON THE MOON. In addition, this legend displays a sort of blaming of women typically found in other stories. Chang’e is sort of exiled to the moon because she stole an elixir of immortality from her husband. This story choice likely reflects society’s greater blame towards women.