The mid autumn lantern festival takes place every year and it's a pretty big deal, second only to Chinese New Year really in Macau. Lotus lanterns are flown everywhere:
It's a lunar harvest festival that is about 3000 years old! Mooncakes (not my favorite thing ever! More to come on that later) are eaten, lanterns are flown, and matchmaking is made.
There are lots of stories and legends surrounding this festival about Houyi and Chang'e who is the Moon Goddess. She lives on the moon but isn't actually the moon... The one I heard yesterday:
Houyi was the hero and Chang'e was his wife.
ONCE UPON A TIME, the world had 10 Suns in the Sky. It was too hot. But a wonderful Archer (Houyi) came one day and shot the extra Suns from the sky. Then there was only the 1 Sun, and it wasn't too hot anymore. As a reward, he was given a magical potion from the Rabbit that lives in the Moon. (In case you don't know, the rabbit in the moon is awesome at making medicine and other potions. True fact.)
OH, NO! BAD GUYS HEAR ABOUT THE MAGICAL POTION!
One day, when the Archer was out hunting, the Bad Guys come to his house to steal the magical potion. Only his wife (Chang'e) was home. What to do? She can't fight the Bad Guys! She knew that the Bad Guys couldn't steal the potion under any circumstances, so she drank it!
And it made her start to float. (And immortal, btw.) All the way up to the Moon. So, that's where she lives now. With the Rabbit. And she gets to be called The Princess in the Moon.
But, she's sad because she can't come back to Earth. (Although Rabbit is totally working on it.)
BUT ON ONE DAY HER MAN CAN COME TO HER! (As it should be.)
When the moon is close. And that's why it's all full and beautiful. The lovers reunite. But, then, he's gotta find his way back to Earth - so we all light lanterns so that the Archer doesn't get lost. Awwww sweet no?
Now... back to the mooncakes. They are these little round pastry things. They look pretty. And I think they are yuck! When you cut them open they have a lotus seed paste or a white bean paste surrounding a duck egg yolk or egg yolk so that when you cut it in 1/2 it looks like a moon. There are also contemporary ones that have basically anything that you can turn into a paste, yucca, yam, pineapple. But I think they are all gross. But during this festival it's customary to give them and have them be given to you. So if course its impolite not to eat them. Bleh! One more thing I can't say that I will miss. MOONCAKES!