Sacrificing to the Moon  
The Autumn Equinox was the traditional festival for making sacrifices to the moon. There is a saying that goes: "Worship the sun in spring, the moon in autumn". The Mid-Autumn Festival nowadays originates from that day. Originally, the festival of sacrificing to the moon was set on the Autumnal Equinox day. But since it is not a fixed day in lunar August, there might be no full moon on the Autumnal Equinox. During the festival, if there was no moon to make sacrifices to, it would spoil the fun. Thus, the day was changed to the Mid-Autumn Day.

Sacrificing to the Moon


According to historical records, as early as the Zhou Dynasty, the ancient kings followed this custom to sacrifice to the sun on the Spring Equinox, to the earth on the Summer Solstice, to the moon on the Autumn Equinox and to the heavens on the Winter Solstice. The places to worship were the Altar of the Sun, Altar of the Earth, Altar of the Moon and Altar of the Heavens, which were grounded in the four different directions, respectively. The altar of the moon in Beijing is where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties sacrificed to the moon. So say the records in Book of Rites: "Sons of Heaven (the emperors) worship the sun in the spring, and the moon in autumn. They worship the sun in the morning and the moon in the night.” This custom was not only followed by the court and the upper nobility, but also gradually affected the civilians with the development of society.


Translated by Zhang Min

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