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Chang'e Flies to the Moon

A long, long time ago, a terrible drought plagued the earth. Ten suns burned fiercely in the sky like smoldering volcanoes that scorched the trees and grass, cracked and parched the land and dried up the river. Many people died of hunger and thirst.

The King of Heaven sent Hou Yi down to the earth to help. When Hou arrived, he took out his red bow and white arrows and shot down the nine suns, one after another. The weather immediately got cooler, heavy rains filled the rivers with fresh water, and the grass and trees turned green. Life was restored and humanity was saved.

One day, a charming, young woman, Chang'e, was on her way home from a stream, holding a bamboo container. A young man approached her and asked for a drink. When Chang'e saw the red bow and white arrows around his belt, she immediately recognized him as the savior, Hou Yi. Offering him a drink, Chang'e plucked a beautiful flower and gave it to him as a token of respect. Hou, in turn, selected a beautiful silver fox fur as his gift to her. This encounter sparked their love for one another and they were soon married.

A mortal's life, however, is limited, so, to enjoy a happy life with Chang'e forever, Hou decided to look for the elixir of life. Hou traveled to the Kunlun Mountains where the Western Queen Mother lived.

Out of respect for his good deeds, the Western Queen Mother rewarded Hou with the elixir, a fine powder made from fruit kernels that grew on the tree of eternity. She told him that he and his wife would both enjoy eternal life only if they drank it together. If only one of them took it, he or she alone would ascend to the heaven and become immortal.

Hou and his wife decided to drink the elixir together on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon was full and bright.

But a wicked and merciless man named Feng Meng overheard their plan. He wished Hou an early death so that he could drink the elixir himself and become immortal. One day, when the full moon was rising, Feng killed Hou on his way home from hunting. The murderer then arrived at Hou's home demanding Chang'e to give him the elixir. Without a moment's hesitation, Chang'e picked up the elixir and drank every last drop of it.

Overcome with grief, she rushed to her dead husband's side, weeping bitterly. Soon the elixir began to take effect and Chang'e felt herself being lifted towards the heaven.

Chang'e decided to live on the moon because it was closest to the earth. There, she led a simple and contented life, although her heart remained in the mortal world. Chang'e never forgot her deep love for Hou and the people who had shared in their sadness and joys.

It is said that Chang'e transformed herself into moonlight and descended onto the earth to offer good fortune. Thus, couples declare their mutual love under the full moon and separated lovers pray to be reunited under the full moon.