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Chung Ch'ui The Chinese Thanksgiving Festival

Updated on July 6, 2011
Chang-erl The Moon Lady
Chang-erl The Moon Lady

Thanksgiving is a special day. On that day, people usually give thank and praise God for His mercy and kindness throughout the year. People will give thank for God's blessing and presented their harvest with a grateful heart. I think the idea about Thanksgiving day is great. The day when the whole family could gather and enjoy great time together. Give thanks and enjoy delicious meal, that's so wonderful. The idea has been absorbed in many country and cultures around the world.

Like in the Chinese Culture, Chinese people always put family in the first place. Chinese people are loyal and respect their family, especially the older ones (Like their Grandad, their Father, Older Brother, etc). Chinese Thanksgiving Festival is called Chung Ch'ui. I do not understand mandarin language much, but I know that Ch'ui or Chiu means Autumn and Chung means middle (that means in the middle of Autumn). On Chung Ch'ui day, Chinese people usually going home and pay a visit to their older relatives, cleaning and decorating their house, visiting their ancestor's tomb, set an altar in the middle room and prepare the table for praying (burn some inscents) their ancestor's spirit. On Chung Ch'ui, the Chinese people usually eat the Moon Cake or Yue Ping.

The Origin of Chung Ch'ui

Chung Ch'ui is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in Chinese calendar. This year the Chung Ch'ui is celebrated on October 3 (Same as Chuseok Festival in Korea) There are many stories about the history of Chung Ch'ui.

The first version : There is a woman named Chang-O or Chang -erl, was married to the great General Hou-Yi of the Imperial Guard. General Hou was a skilled archer. One day, at the behest of the emperor, he shot down eight of nine suns that had mysteriously appeared in the heaven that morning. His marksmanship was richly rewarded by the emperor and he became very famous. However, the people feared that these suns would appear again to torture them and dry up the planet, so they prayed to the Goddess of Heaven (Wang Mu) to make General Hou immortal so that he could always defend the emperor, his progeny and the country. Their wish was granted and General Hou was given a Pill of Immortality.

Another version of this story notes that Chang-O, the wife of the Divine Archer, shot down nine of ten suns plaguing the world and received the Herb of Immortality as a reward. Whoever the hero was, Chang-O grabbed the pill (or the herb) and fled to the moon. In some versions it is uncertain whether she ever actually got there, because Chinese operas always portray her as still dancing-flying toward the moon.

When Chang-O reached the moon, she found a tree under which there was a friendly hare. Because the air on the moon is cold, she began coughing and the Immortality Pill came out of her throat. She thought it would be good to pound the pill into small pieces and scatter them on Earth so that everyone could be immortal. So she ordered the hare to pound the pill, built a palace for herself and remained on the moon.

This helpful hare is referred to in Chinese mythology as the Jade Hare. Because of his and Chang-O's legendary importance, you will see - stamped on every mooncake, every mooncake box, and every Moon Cake Festival poster - images of Chang-O and sometimes the Jade Hare.

The third version : Chinese people are tortured under the occupation of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) from Mongolia. One day a man name Chu Goan Chiang set a rebellion.The rebel organization was called Ming, means light. To spread the rebellion's messages among Chinese people, he and his army hide their message inside the moon cake and spread it to all the people. Their strategy has succeed and the Yuan Dynasty was over. Chu Goan Chiang become the first Emperor of Ming Dynasty. There is a maestro from Hong Kong named Prof Louis Cha who made a great novel about this (title is Ie Thien Tu Lung Ci).


Mooncake Festival Performance

Mooncake in the making

Moon Cake

One type of traditional moon cake is filled with lotus seed paste. Roughly the size of a human palm, these moon cakes are quite filling, meant to be cut diagonally in quarters and passed around.
More elaborate versions of moon cakes contain four egg yolks (representing the four phases of the moon). Besides lotus seed paste, other traditional fillings include red bean paste and black bean paste. Unfortunately for dieters, moon cakes are rather high in calories. The salty egg yolks filling is my favorite although is not great for the waist size, but you eat it just once a year. So, give yourself a nice treat.

Today, moon cakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, chocolate, bacon, and fruit to Chinese sausages. More exotic creations include green tea moon cakes, and ping pei or snowskin moon cakes, a Southeast Asian variation made with cooked glutinous rice flour. Haagen-Daz has even gotten into the act by introducing a line of ice cream moon cakes in Asian markets.


Types of Moon Cakes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Moon Cakes in Various ShapesMoon CakeMoon CakeSquare Moon CakeLarge Moon Cake
Moon Cakes in Various Shapes
Moon Cakes in Various Shapes
Moon Cake
Moon Cake
Moon Cake
Moon Cake
Square Moon Cake
Square Moon Cake
Large Moon Cake
Large Moon Cake

Chinese people celebrate Chung Ch'ui

Chinese people usually do many of these activities during the festival :

  •      Eating mooncakes outside under the moon
  •      Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
  •      Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
  •      Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
  •      Planting Mid-Autumn trees
  •      Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
  •      Fire Dragon Dances


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chung Ch'ui Festival in SingaporeChung Ch'ui festival in Beijing
Chung Ch'ui Festival in Singapore
Chung Ch'ui Festival in Singapore
Chung Ch'ui festival in Beijing
Chung Ch'ui festival in Beijing

The Lantern Festival in Chinese Garden, Singapore

Chung Ch'ui Festival in Indonesia

The Chinese Indonesian also celebrate the Moon Cake Festival. It calls gwee pia or tiong chiu pia in Hokkian dialect that commonly used by the Chinese Indonesian people. There is no formal holiday, but Chinese people here celebrate the day with praying, exchanging moon cakes, eating out together in the evening, have some barbecue (khao rou cie), watching lantern shows in some department stores, watching dragon dances performance and have fun.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Chung Ch'ui

Chung Ch'ui Festival in Indonesia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Moon Cake Festival in Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya, East Java, IndonesiaMoon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia Man Selling Moon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, IndonesiaMoon Cake Festival in Mall in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
Moon Cake Festival in Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
Moon Cake Festival in Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
Moon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia
Moon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia
Man Selling Moon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia
Man Selling Moon Cakes in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia
Moon Cake Festival in Mall in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
Moon Cake Festival in Mall in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

Comments

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    • ekenzy profile image

      ekenzy 

      9 years ago

      Wow!!! nice hub. is really making sence.

    • snakebaby profile image

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 

      9 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      Nice hub, very informational. But agree that this is absolutely not Thanksgiving, there is no Thanksgiving in China (may be the only Western holiday they haven't yet inherited), there has never been any western's "thankful" meanings added to this traditional Chinese holiday. It is called "Moon Cake Festival" or "Zhong Qiu Jie". In that sense, it is misleading, sorry, but enjoyed your writing, thanks!

    • profile image

      Robin 

      9 years ago

      it is really nice blog.. but this is actually called mid autumn festival or zhong qiu jie in mandarin... :-)

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      9 years ago from Indonesia

      Robin, yes, you're right, thank you for this information, have a great day!

    • profile image

      Robin 

      9 years ago

      it is really nice blog.. but this is actually called mid autumn festival or zhong qiu jie in mandarin... :-)

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      Sybil Marie, the moon dance is very attractive and become one of tourist attraction. Thank you for your nice comment!

    • Sybil Marie profile image

      Sybil Marie 

      10 years ago

      Very informative hub! Beautiful Pictures and videos. I especially enjoyed the moon dance.

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      Hello nikki1, great to see you here. Thank you for visiting.

    • nikki1 profile image

      nikki1 

      10 years ago

      Wow, love your This hub. Love ur pic.s also. Thanx for sharing. Check out my Thanksgiving hub filled with amazon merchandise. Hope u like'm.

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      good to see you Lgali, thank's for your comment:)

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 

      10 years ago

      another well researched article

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      Dear Patty, thank you so much. I'm glad if you could enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I really enjoyed this Hub and its cultural and food information. Thumbs up!

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      Anath, thank's for visiting and your nice comment!

      Thank you Princessa, you were right, at last all of us have at least one day to slow down and give thank for a good year. Even my country Indonesia has so many native thanksgiving day to be celebrated! I still collect the pieces..and maybe will give another hit for the HubMob :)

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      This is a great hub febriedethan, I love it when I can discover traditions from other parts of the world. At the end all those traditions show us that despite our cultural differences, we all converge at one point, in this case thanking for a good year.

    • Anath profile image

      Anath 

      10 years ago

      Lovely pictures and videos. It was good to learn something new, thanks!

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR

      febriedethan 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      Hello Agus,

      Well, actually there are many version stories behind the moon cake, I only mention three of them (the main ones) Thank you for stopping in and give a nice comment :)

      Hi RevLady, thank you for stopping in and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 

      10 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      So very interesting. I really enjoy the contribution of other cultures. Thank you!

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 

      10 years ago from Indonesia

      I know about moon cake but never know the story behind it and your hub has made it clear. Thank you.

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