Of suns, mooncakes, and immortality: Unpacking the myth of Chang Er

Did your parents tell you this tale?

With the fifteenth day of the eight month in the lunar calendar drawing close, many are preparing to celebrate the auspicious Mid-Autumn Festival.

Commonly known as Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival, this celebration is rich with folklore, with the story of Chang Er usually retold to children.

Though there are many variations to it, there’s one that seems to be stand out more than the rest.

Get your mooncakes, sit back, and enjoy as we unveil the tale of Chang Er.

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Image via: Mothership

The ten suns

Long ago, there were ten suns burning in the sky, scorching the land and causing severe drought and widespread famine.

At the Emperor of Heaven’s request, a powerful archer named Hou Yi was tasked with shooting down nine suns on top of Kunlun Mountain.

After performing this heroic feat, Hou Yi was awarded an elixir of immortality. However, refusing to leave his wife Chang Er, he entrusted the elixir to her for safekeeping.

Chang Er protects the elixir

One day when Hou Yi was away, his greedy apprentice Feng Meng broke into his home to steal the elixir.

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In order to protect the elixir, Chang Er swallowed the elixir out of desperation and ascended to the Moon.

A grieving Hou Yi later made offerings to the moon in remembrance of her sacrifice and their love for one another.  

Image via: DeviantArt / AmadeuxWay

To this day, some believe that Chang Er’s likeness can still be seen on the moon.

Netflix’s spin-off

Just last year, Netflix retold the tale of Chang Er in an animated film Over the Moon, which garnered global acclaim.

It follows an adventurous girl named Fei Fei, who builds a rocket ship to meet a mythical goddess on the moon.

WeirdKaya would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

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Cover via: Pinterest and XinhuaNet

Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh