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中秋节 The Mid-Autumn Festival

(2010-05-04 16:41:58)
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杂谈

分类: Chineseculture
中秋节 The Mid-Autumn Festival

 

月到中秋分外明。

 

The harvest is exceptionally bright.

 

中秋节在夏历八月十五日,又称“仲秋节”、“团圆节”。都说这一天夜里的月亮最圆最亮。这时候秋高气爽,正适宜赏月,合家欢聚赏月便成为这个节日的主要特征。为什么叫“中秋”呢?农历七、八、九月为秋季,八月居中,为“中秋”。又说,每季之月依次为孟、仲、季,八月为仲秋,“仲”通“中”,故名“中秋”。

 

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Zhongqiu Festival, or the Reunion Festival, falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest at night. Families usually celebrate this festival by gathering together, eating moon-cakes (round-shaped to symbolize perfection and union) and watching the bright moon. Why is it called Mid-Autumn? According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the seventh, eighth and ninth months are all in the season of autumn with the eighth lunar month in the middle. And the sequence of months in any season is listed as meng (first), zhong (second) and ji (third) in Chinese. The Chinese character zhong (second) is homonymous with the character zhong(middle). The festival has got the name the Mid-Autumn Festival because it is in the middle of the autumn season.

 

中秋节由来已久,如果从人们对月亮的崇拜说起,那就更加悠远了。至少在《周礼》中就已提到“中秋夜迎寒”,估计那是周天子在这一天夜里祭月的一种仪礼吧。然而《荆楚岁时记》却并没有提到中秋,可能南北朝时此俗尚未定型。不过到了唐代,中秋节已经颇有些名声,那是毫无疑问的。有好几种古籍都记述了风流天子唐明皇在这天夜里游月宫的生动传说,可见当时的中秋节已经成为一个很热闹的节日,才会催生出如此浪漫的篇章。

 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is of long standing and can be traced back to the worship of the moon in ancient book Zhou Li (The Rite of Zhou), which was estimated to refer to a sacrificial rite held by the emperor of the Zhou Dynasty (1046BC-221BC). But the custom did not take shape till the Northern and Southern dynasties (420AD-581AD), as it was not mentioned in the book of Jingchu Suishiji (Festivals in the Jingchu Area). It is certain that the Mid-Autumn Festival was popular in the Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD) because according to some books, legend had it that Emperor Ming of the Tang Dynasty traveled to the Moon Palace that night, showing that the Mid-Autumn Festival had become a lively festival from which the romance arose.

 

有关中秋的传说很多,嫦娥本月、吴刚伐桂、玉兔捣药、唐明皇游月宫、八月十五天门开、月饼的来历……一个比一个生动,一个比一个精彩。在皎洁的月光下,听妈妈讲述这些动人的故事,是孩子们最好的享受。

 

The Mid-Autumn Festival involves many vivid and wonderful legendssuch as Chang’e’s Flight to the Moon, Wu Gang Chopping Down a Cassia Tree, The Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine, Emperor Ming of the Tang Dynasty Traveling to the Moon Palace, the Opening of the Door to Heaven on the Fifteenth Day of the Eighth Month and The Origin of the Moon-Cakes. It is an enjoyable time for the Chinese children to listen to such amusing stories told by their mothers in the bright moonlight.

 

嫦娥是后羿的妻子.据说在很早很早的时候天上出现了十个太阳,给神州大地带来可怕的灾难,到处燃起熊熊烈火,河流干涸,横尸遍野.为了替天下的百姓除害,后羿一口气射下九个太阳.后来,他又继续拼搏,杀死了许多毒蛇猛兽,人们才终于能够安居乐业.不过世界上的事情往往不可能十全十美,后羿这样一个盖世英雄却也有他的不幸.他一天到晚在外面奔波,就冷落了他那美丽的妻子嫦娥。他们夫妻之间的感情终于出现了危机。据说后羿从西王母那儿要来了一包“不死之药”,一直是交给嫦娥珍藏的。那天,嫦娥一时想不开,偷吃了这药,就独自一个人升上云天,来到了寒冷的月宫。后羿知道了这事,想去追赶妻子,早已经来不及了。他原本是可以用弓箭去射月亮的,不过他毕竟于心不忍,最终还是没有射。嫦娥独自一人住在月宫里,只有一只玉兔和一只蟾蜍陪伴着她。玉兔整天在捣药,很是凄凉。李商隐的诗句:“嫦娥应悔偷灵药,碧海青天夜夜心。”说的就是这种心情。民间口耳相传,关于嫦娥奔月的传说后来又出现了许多不同的“版本”,众说纷纭,要为嫦娥奔月寻找另外一些理由。毕竟月亮是美的,嫦娥也是美的,人们希望嫦娥奔月的传说更加美一些,这种心情完全可以理解。

 

Chang’e was Houyi’s wife. A legend has it that long long ago, there were then suns in the sky which brought about dreadful calamities to the earth with flames raging, the rivers getting dry and the corpses piling up. Houyi shot down nine suns with arrows in one breath, hoping to get rid of the evils for the people. Later he continued to kill the serpents and wild animals. As a result, people lived and worked peacefully and comfortably. But nothing can be perfect. Houyi, an unparalleled hero, was no exception, who experienced his misfortunes. He was out all day and gave his beautiful wife, Chang’e, the cold shoulder, which affected their mutual attachment. It was said that Houyi had asked for a packet of pills, the elixir of life, from the Queen Mother and asked Chang’e to keep it. One day, Chang’e was so pessimistic that she ascended to the sky and arrived at the cold Moon Palace after swallowing the pills. When Houyi got to know this, it was too late for him to catch up with his wife. He could have shot at the moon with his arrow, but he did not have the heart to do so and gave up at last. Chang’e stayed alone in the Moon Palace with the Jade Rabbit and a toad as her company. The Jade Rabbit lived a dreary life, pounding medicine all day. The life there was described in Li Shangyin’s poem, “Chang’e must regret stealing the elixir/ As she broods in loneliness night after night”. There are many variations of Chang’e legend as to the reason why she flew to the moon. It is understandable that all the legends are invoved with the beauty of both the moon and Chang’e and they are the reflections of people’s expectations.

 

吴刚伐桂的说法也有多种。古书上说,吴刚学仙,犯了错误,天帝罚他在月宫里砍伐一棵桂树。什么时候砍断了,他就算是解脱了。可是这棵桂树很怪,吴刚的斧子砍下去,树上有了一个缺口;可是等他把斧子再次挥起,那个缺口便又弥合了。于是吴刚只好一辈子在月宫里伐桂。

 

There are also various of Wu Gang’s chopping down a cassia tree. According to one book, Wu Gang made a mistake while learning to be a celestial being. As a result, he got the punishment of chopping a cassia tree in the Moon Palace from the Jade Emperor of Heaven. He could not be freed from the punishment until he finally cut down the tree. But whenever he chopped, wounds of the tree would heal simultaneously, so he had to devote all his life to chopping in the Moon Palace.

 

有一年中秋节,唐明皇在宫里赏月。边上的道士罗公远一时高兴,要陪唐明皇到月宫里去玩玩。他随手把拐棍抛向空中,便成了一座天桥,两人踏着天桥上天,进了月宫。这时候,仙女们正在跳着《霓裳羽衣曲》,舞姿优雅,飘逸飞扬,美极啦。唐明皇是个绝顶聪明的人,在边上听了一遍,居然就把这个曲子给记了下来。据说如今我们听到的这个曲子,就是当年唐明皇从月宫里带回来的。

 

On one Mid-Autumn Festival, Emperor Ming of the Tang Dynasty enjoyed the moon in his palace together with Luo Gong, a Taoist priest, who, out of delight, suggested going on a pleasure journey with the emperor to the Moon Palace. He tossed his walking-stick into the air which turned into a bridge leading to the sky. The two of them walked over the bridge and came to the Moon Palace where the fairy maidens were dancing gracefully to the music of The Dance in Leathery Clothes. The emperor was so intelligent that he wrote down the tune after listening to it only once. It is said that the tune to which we listen today is the one he brought back from the Moon Palace.

 

又说“八月十五天门开”,中秋节夜里,月宫里的桂花树会降落桂子,如果地上的凡人拣到了,便会获得幸福。就在杭州西湖灵隐寺的边上,有一座山峰叫做月桂峰,据说便与这个掌故有关。

 

The story of “Opening the Door to Heaven on the Fifeenth of the Eighth Lunar Month” goes like this: The fruits of cassia trees fell down in the Moon Palace. The ordinary people who picked them up would gain happiness. The Cassia Peak, on the side of the Lingyin Temple near the West Lake in Hangzhou, is relevant to this legend.

 

中秋节吃月饼。关于月饼的传说也有好几种。有人说,这要追溯到当年七仙女和董永的爱情故事。七仙女回天宫,给董永留下一个儿子。儿子长大了,哭着找娘。吴刚听见了,不忍心,扮成村夫模样来见这个孩子,送给他一双登云鞋,让他中秋节穿了去见娘。那天,孩子上天,果然见到了娘。七仙女给儿子做饼吃,这饼就跟月亮似的,滚圆滚圆。后来,天帝发觉了这事,把吴刚罚到月宫里去伐桂,又把七仙女儿子的登云鞋没收了,遣送下凡。这孩子回到人间,思念亲娘,就做给他吃的那种饼,在中秋节那天把饼摆在月亮底下,表示对亲人的思念。据说这就是后来的月饼。

 

There are several legends about the custom of eating moon-cakes on the Mid-Autumn Festival. This custom can be traced back to the love story between Dong Yong and the Seventh Fairy Lady, who returned to the Palace in the sky leaving a son to Dong Yong. The son grew up and cried for his mother, so Wu Gang had to disguise himself as a farmer and gave his son a pair of shoes which could take him to see his mother in the Palace on the Mid-Autumn Festival. The son saw his mother and ate the cakes his mother made, which were round as the moon. Having been noticed by the Emperor of Heaven, Wu Gang was punished by chopping a cassia tree in the Moon Palace, and the son was sent back to the earth and the shoes were taken back. After coming back to the earth, the son missed his mother so much that he made the same cakes. Displayed in the moonlight on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the cakes, symbolizing the longing for the relatives, are the moon-cakes today.

 

还有一种说法,说是为了反抗元朝统治,有人在中秋节前暗中串联,把“八月十五,家家齐动手”的纸条藏在饼里互相传递,作为一种联络暗号。中秋夜,家家户户吃了这饼,齐心协力起来造反,终于获得成功。从此以后,中秋吃月饼也就巍然成风。

 

There is another story about the moon-cakes, which was concerned with the rebellion against rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1271AD-1368AD). Stuffed into each moon-cake was a piece of paper with the message “Rise against the rulers on the fifteenth day of the eighth month”. The moon-cakes with the message inside were distributed to the residents in the city. On the night of the festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Since then it became a common practice for the people to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with moon-cakes.

 

当然,中秋吃月饼,和清明吃粽子一样,它的历史渊源应该另有说法,而世代相传的传说则寄托着人们的一种感情,同样应该受到珍惜。

 

Of course, eating moon-cakes on the Mid-Autumn Festival, just like eating Zongzi on the Dragon-Boat Festival, ought to have its own origin. But the legends passed down the generations really tell us something valuable of the people’s emotions involved in the Mid-Autumn Festival.

 

中秋节的风俗活动很多,最常见的是全家人团聚在一起,吃一餐团圆饭,然后在皎洁的月光下,赏月、祭月,吃月饼。除此而外,各地还有不少花样,诸如卖兔儿爷、烧斗香、走月亮、放灯、树中秋、舞火龙、曳石等,都曾经给人留下深刻的印象。

 

There are a good many activities of the Mid-Autumn Festival, but the most common practice is that all the family members appreciate and worship the moon in the bright moonlight, and eat moon-cakes after having a reunion dinner. There are some special practices in different parts of the country, such as selling Lord Rabbits, burning a dou of joss sticks, walking in the moonlight, hanging lanterns, planting Mid-Autumn trees, fire dragon dances and mill towing, all with deep impressions.

 

北方民间盛行兔儿爷。佛经里有一个故事,说神仙分别向狐狸、猴、兔求食,狐狸和猴都给了食物,唯独兔子一无所有,它说:“你就吃我的肉吧。”然后纵身跳入烈火之中。神仙很是感动,就把兔子送到月宫。兔儿爷是不是就是跳到火里去自焚献身的兔子,这还有待考证。不过至迟在明清的典籍里,就已不乏“兔儿节”的记载,说人们在中秋节用泥塑成兔形,衣冠踞坐,如人状,儿女祀而拜之。老人回忆,旧时北京东四牌楼一带,每当临近中秋,就会有不少摊贩,专售各式各样的兔儿爷,琳琅满目,煞是好看。人们把兔儿爷买回去,供在祭月的供桌上,或是放在室内,成为一种摆设,小孩子们当然就更加喜爱它了。

 

The Lord Rabbits are popular in northern China. There is a story in the Buddhist scripttures that an immortal begged food from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit. They all provided him with food except for the rabbit because he had nothing. But the rabbit jumped into the raging fire after telling the immortal to eat his meat, which moved the immortal so deeply that he sent the rabbit to the story has yet to be proved, but it was really mentioned in the books of the Ming and the Qing dynasties that people moulded a rabbit in clay which was sitting dressed like a man and worshiped by the children. Some aged people recalled that in the former Beijing’s Dongsi Pailou, there were many stalls selling a variety of attractive lord rabbits when the Mid-Autumn Festival was around the corner. People put them on the sacrificing tables at home, or put them indoors for decoration. The children of course liked them very much.

 

中秋斗香,是古代祭月仪礼的衍变。古代帝王都要在中秋节祭月,如今北京的月坛,就是当年留下来的。这种风俗影响到民间,有的地方的商家就会专门制造一种“斗香”出售,四方形,上大下小,纱绢或纸糊成,形似斗,却又装饰得十分漂亮,四角挑灯,里边可以点香烛,家家户户买回去,专供中秋夜祭月用,一时间成为风气,不过如今已经很少见了。

 

The burning of a dou of joss sticks in the Mid-Autumn Festival evolved from the ancient worship of the moon and the Temple of Moon in Beijing was built for the purpose of the emperor’s worship on the festival. The custom was so influential that some manufacturers got the idea to sell the dou of joss sticks, which was made of paper or silk in the shape of a square like the measuring implement of dou in China, which was bigger at the upper part while smaller at the lower part and hung from four corners with beautiful decorations and joss sticks inside. It was a fashion that people brought them home to worship the moon, but they are rarely seen today.

 

走月亮,又称为踏月、游月、玩月,是妇女们最喜欢的活动。中秋节夜晚,妇女们三五成群,在月色下畅游,有的地方还顺带着要走桥,也颇有情趣。在江南一些地方,还有“摸秋”习俗,这一天到瓜田里去摸个瓜来,放在不育女子的床上,俗信以为可以“求子”。

 

Walking in the Mid-Autumn moonlight, also known as Moon-Watching, is a women’s favorite event. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, women went out for a walk in groups and sometimes walked over a bridge for fun. In South China, people have a custom of Autumn-Touching. It is said that on that day people would pick up a melon in the field and put it on the bed of a lady who could not be pregnant to make an offer for a son.

 

中秋节与元宵节相似,也往往要挂灯。《武林旧事》里提到,南宋朝廷要在中秋夜到钱塘江里放“一点红”羊皮小水灯数十万盏,这样一种场面,想来是很壮观的。而在广州一带,则有“树中秋”,又称“竖中秋”,则完全是一种民间灯会了。中秋夜,家家挂灯,满城灯火,犹如明星闪烁,把月亮烘托得更加动人。

 

The Mid-Autumn Festival is similar to the Lantern Festival in hanging lanterns. Mentioned in the book Wulin Jiushi(Old Affairs of Wulin), it was spectacular that the court of the Southern Song Dynasty put millions of small water lanters, made of sheep skin, in the Qiantang River. And in the Guangzhou area, there is a custom of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival by holding a huge lantern show, which is a big attraction to local citizens. Thousands of different-shaped lanterns are lit, forming a fantastic contrast against the bright moonlight.

 

在福建霞浦一带,这一天夜里要“曳石”。人们用石块系上绳索,在街上拖拉游戏。据说这是为了纪念抗倭英雄戚继光。

 

In the area of Xiaopu, Fujian Province, people pull the rope tied to a mill stone on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival to honor Qi Jiguang, the hero of resisting foreign aggressions.

 

云南傣族要在中秋夜“拜月”。传说天皇的第三个儿子岩尖曾经率领傣族人民打败入侵的外敌,他死后成了月亮。人们在这天晚上要准备丰盛的供品,祭奠岩尖,称为“拜月”。鄂伦春族则在空地上放一盆清水,这时候,月亮的倒影便呈现在水盆里,人们用小石子去抛打盆中的月影,俗称“打月亮”。广西的壮族,则在中秋夜祭月神。他们在村口设供桌,桌边竖起一尺多高的树枝,象征社树。老人说,这是月神下凡用的梯子。祭月神的仪式很隆重,包括接神、神人对歌、请神卜卦和送神这样几个程序。

 

People of the Dai ethnic group in Yunnan Province worship the moon on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The legend goes that the third son of the Emperor of Heaven, Yan Jian, led the people of the Dai ethnic group to defeat the foreign aggressions and was turned into the moon after death. So people got the tribute ready to offer sacrifice to him on that night,  which is called the worship of the moon. People of the Oroqen ethic group have the custom of putting a basin of pure water on the groud and the shadow of the moon is seen in the basin. People could throw stones at the shadow, which is called beating the moon. People of the Zhuang ethnic group in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region worship the Moon Goddess by putting a sacrificing table at the entrance to the village with a one-foot branch against it, which, according to the elders, symbolizes the She Tree to be used as a ladder for the God Moon to come to the earth. The ceremony is elaborate, including greeting the God, singing between the God and man, inviting the God to fortune-telling and seeing the God off.

 

总之,各民族、各个地狱民众在中秋节里的一些具体做法会出现种种差异,但是人们对于月圆的企盼和由此引发的对亲人的思念之情,却是相通的。宋代大诗人苏东坡的诗句:“但愿人长久,千里共婵娟”,正是对这种情怀的生动写照。只要月亮还在,看来这个中秋节就还一直过下去了。

 

To sum up, the celebrating performances vary for different ethnic groups in different parts of China, but what they have in common is that people are expecting the full moon and longing for their relatives. As is said in Su Dongpo’s poem in the Song Dynasty that “ I wish that in Su Dongpo’s poem in the Song Dynasty that “I wish that we all would have a long life,/ And share the bright moon even miles apart.” It seems that the celebrations will continue as long as the moon is still bright.

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