It is a well known fact that each year the moon oscillates through its coquettish cycles of shyness and confidence, inching its way across sky, revealing all and then all but disappearing twelve times. The reason it does this, however, is not so well known. This is only because the Chinese do not like to boast.
Long long ago, well before the Chinese discovered foreigners with the invention of Marco Polo, there was a period of time when the moon disappeared. This was very difficult for the inhabitants of the time, as opium, baijiu, fireworks and prostitutes were all invented but not yet candles or electricity. Lighters and matches did not exist either so many people died, not only from trying to use fireworks as a source of light but also from the sparking procedure, which involved throwing rocks at the fuse which had to be held in place by another person on another rock. After an unknown amount of time the population, all blind from trying to trace the years by following cycles of the sun, decided that something must be done.
Emperor Ming Yao, who was very tall, rich and clever, knew a thing or two about gods and luck. “We have angered the moon” he said famously. “We talk of days instead of nights, money instead of moons. From now on we must recognize the moon as the most important daughter of China.” The people agreed. Immediately they chose the twelve best animals and gave these creatures to the moon. They also established festivals on an almost monthly basis which occurred whenever a shipment of Opium arrived. Within a generation the moon returned to her normal schedule.
For millenniums after the incident reverence was maintained. The people gave the best of their food and belongings to the moon. On the first day of the first moon each year the people scrambled to obtain that year’s animal. For it was said that the moon most appreciated those who raised her animals. For many months the animals were pampered and treated as members of the family, going on outings and sleeping in the house. On the last day of the twelfth month the animals were slaughtered and their carcasses were left in a treeless field where the moon was sure to find them. This custom was only stopped recently by outside “animal rights” agitators.
With the cessation of the animal ritual the Chinese have had to work extra hard to keep the moon from disappearing again. Among these efforts have been the “extra awesoming campaign” wherein festivals which had previously been described as “awesome” have been pushed up a notch with extra strength liquor and “lovely” balloons as well as the State-run building sacrifices. The locals also do their part, carrying with them everywhere a replica of this year’s animal (a cow). The idols dangle from cell phones, wink and smile on t-shirts and, as giant plastic mallet shaped Bessies, squeak with each whack of the grandchild.
If you notice someone paying their respect to the moon thank them quietly, for it has already been decreed that next time the moon disappears it will be the foreigners who are charged with steadying fuses.
Location: Everywhere there are Chinese People
Domestic Attention Level: Reverential
This entry was posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 10:35 pm and is filed under China, This Ridiculous World Guide and tagged with Chinese Customs, Chinese history, Cows, Festivals, Holidays, Humor, Moon, Sacrifices, social commentary, Tradition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.