We went to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden on Sunday. The garden is very pretty and is located in Chinatown, which resides in an old part of downtown. And because the Portland Marathon was also being held in downtown at the same time we were there, parking was not exactly plentiful.
As part of the Under the Autumn Moon Festival, the Garden was offering free admission. Of course since it was free, there was a long line. It took us about 20-30 minutes to get in. But it was worth it. There’s water and plants every where. If there wasn’t so many people at the garden, it would be a very tranquil place. And the kids loved the fishes in the giant pond and Spiderboy loved the lion statues. He even stuck his head in a lion’s mouth and said the lion was eating him. What a nut! Sadly, I think he gets his personality from me or so my wife claims.
The Moon Festival is a big holiday for Chinese (I think other Asians as well) and has being going on for over 1,000 years (no, I’m not that old). The holiday is a time to reflect upon the bounty of the summer harvest, the fullness of the moon, and the myth of the immortal moon Goddess, Chang-O, who lives on the moon. In a way, the Moon Festival is a little like Thanksgiving here in the US.
As for Chang-O, the Lady of the Moon, there’s several variations to her story. In one version, there were ten suns in the sky. The combined heat of the ten suns scorched the earth and crops so that people had nothing to eat. An archer, Hou Yi, shot down nine of the suns and was rewarded with the elixir of life. But his wife, Chang-O, took the elixir of life for herself and floated to the moon afterwards. Yi chased after her, but the wind blew him back to earth. Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Yi visits his wife. That is why the moon is suppose to be full and beautiful on that night and why there’s an annual Moon Festival.
One other note, according to one legend, Yi built a palace in the sun (all Asians have this ability). Yi is considered the Yang in the Yin and Yang concepts because he represents the sun and is male. Chang-O is the Yin because she represents the moon and is female.