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Chang O Flees to the Moon - Legend of Mid-Autumn Festival

There are so many variations and adaptations of the Chang'e legend that one can become overwhelmed and utterly confused. However, most legends about Chang'e in Chinese mythology involve some variation of the following elements: Houyi, Chang'e, an elixir of life and the Moon.

A long, long time ago, a terrible drought plagued the earth. Ten suns burned fiercely in the sky like smoldering volcanoes. The trees and grass were scorched. The land was cracked and parched, and rivers ran dry. Many people died of hunger and thirst. A hero names Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns with his bow and saved the world from imminent starvation.

There're three variations of the legend starts from here.

One legend tells us that these ten suns were the sons of the Jade Emperor, who was so angered by the loss of his sons, that he banished the archer together with his wife, Chang O. When the Western Goddess discovered what had happened, she took pity on Hou Yi, giving him an elixir of immortality. But Chang O greedily swallowed the potion by herself and floated up into the sky. Fearing that the deities in heaven would laugh at her, she took refuge on the moon, building there a palace known as the "Cold Palace," where she lives to this very day as the Lady of the Moon. Since it is believed that Chang O floated to the moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, people offer annual prayer and sacrifices to the moon on that day to commemorate the event.

Another story goes like this. It's said that the King of Heaven sent Hou Yi down to the earth to shot down nine suns to save people.
One day, a charming young woman, Chang O met a young man, asking for a drink on her way home. Because of the red bow and white arrows, Chang'e realizes that he is their savior, Hou Yi. This meeting kindles the spark of their love. And soon after that, they get married.
A mortal's life is limited, of course. So in order to enjoy his happy life with Chang'e forever, Hou Yi goes to the Kunlun Mountains where the Western Queen Mother lives to look for an elixir of life. Mother rewards Hou Yi with elixir. At the same time, she tells him: If you and your wife share the elixir, you will both enjoy eternal life. But if only one of you takes it,that one will ascend to Heaven and become immortal.
Hou Yi returns home and tells his wife all that has happened and they decide to drink the elixir together on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is full and bright.
A wicked and merciless man named Feng Meng secretly hears about their plan. One day, when the full moon is rising, Hou Yi is on his way home from hunting. Feng Meng kills him. The murderer then runs to Hou Yi's home and forces Chang'e to give him the elixir, Without hesitating, Chang'e picks up the elixir and drinks it all. Soon Chang'e feels herself being lifted towards Heaven.
Chang'e decides to live on the moon because it is nearest to the earth. Never does she forget the deep love she has for Hou Yi and the love she feels for the people who have shared their sadness and happiness.

The third legend speaks of Hou Yi, bestowed with the elixir of immortality by the Queen Mother of the West, did not want to consume the elixir and leave his beautiful but very mortal wife, Chang Er, so he gave the elixir to his wife for safekeeping.

Unfortunately, Hou Yi's disloyal apprentice forced Chang Er to swallow the elixir. She then became a supernatural being. She flew to the moon, and from there watched her husband. Knowing that his wife had now been separated from him, Hou Yi was crazed with grief. Looking up at the moon one night, he saw a figure like his wife. He hurriedly took cakes and succade as offerings to his wife. Upon hearing this, people developed the custom of watching the moon and eating moon cakes annually on this day.'e

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