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The Legend of Wu Gang

Source: Chinatravel.Com
Thursday, September 19, 2013

It was said that there used to be three immortals that were disguised as three poor old men. These poor old men begged for food towards a fox, a monkey and a hare.

The fox and the monkey could offer something to eat to the old men, but the hare had nothing to give them.

Instead, the hare asked the old men to eat its meat, and then the hare immediately plunged into the raging fire.

The three immortals were deeply moved by the hare and they decided to bring the hare to the palace of the moon. The hare which lived on the moon was the Jade Hare we commonly called.

The Jade Hare kept goodness Chang'e company on the moon and it also mashed herbs and made elixirs of life there day after day.

When we look up at the bright moon, we can see a black shadow on the moon, which is the legendary Wu Gang who is trying to cut down the sweet osmanthus tree.

According to legends, Wu Gang was an ordinary woodcutter who was obsessed with becoming an immortal. He went to mountains and asked an immortal as his teacher and sought instructions from him.

However, Wu Gang was very shiftless and impatient and couldn't concentrate his attention. The immortal was enraged and made him stay on the moon.

The immortal let Wu Gang to cut down the sweet osmanthus tree on the moon and informed him that he could become an immortal once he cut down the tree.

Wu Gang tried his best to cut the tree with his axe; however, the tree would regrow naturally as what it was like.

Thus, Wu Gang kept cutting the sweet osmanthus tree day after day, but couldn't manage to cut it down because of its regrowth.

Eating mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Festival can date back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when the common people couldn't bear the brutal reign of the ruling class and they began to resist and rebel. A leader named Zhu Yuanzhang decided to gather all the resistance forces and prepared to rebel together.

However, the rebelling information was very difficult to deliver to every one. Just at that time, Zhu Yuanzhang's military counselor named Liu Bowen had an idea that he ordered the subordinates to put a slip of paper with the words of rebelling on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month on it in each mooncake and then try to send these mooncakes to insurrectionary armies.

Thus, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (mid-autumn day), all the insurrectionary army men rebelled together and they made great success. In celebration of the great success, people ate mooncakes on the mid-autumn day.

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