Thursday, September 19, 2013
Autumn Moon Festival, Moon Cakes, and Vampires @KMNbooks #vampires #Free #Kindle
A few of San Francisco landmarks are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Chinatown. There are cable cars and steep rolling hills with a mix of Victorian as well as modern architecture. The city is surrounded on three sides with water and it is common for fog to roll in like a filmy white blanket, especially during the summer months.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in the United States and the town draws in more tourists than the Golden Gate Bridge.
The festival is like a Chinese Thanksgiving with the spirit of gratitude. There is plenty of food and of course, the popular moon cake mentioned in Autumn Moon is a favorite. The holiday is also about the bounty of the summer harvest, the legend of the moon, the immortal gods and the elixir of life.
Legend of the Moon Festival
The Moon Festival known as the Zhongqiu Jie in Chinese dates back over 3,000 years ago. There are many legends. Most stories are based on the idea that the goddess Chang'e lives on the moon.
According to legend, Chang'e and her husband were immortals living in heaven. One day, the Jade Emperor's ten sons transformed into ten suns. With so many suns, the earth began to scorch. The Emperor ordered his sons to stop, but they would not listen. The Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi used his legendary archery skills and shot down nine of the sons, but spared one son to be the sun.
The Jade Emperor was not happy about losing his sons and punished Houyi. He sentenced Houyi and and his wife Chang'e to live as mortals on earth. Houyi saw how miserable Chang'e was and searched for the immortal pill.
He met the Queen Mother of the West who agreed to give him the pill. The pill was to be cut in half so Houyi and Chang'e could become immortal, but Chang'e found the pill hidden in a box before Houyi could explain this to her. When Houyi walked in and found her snooping, she became nervous and accidentally swallowed the pill. The overdose caused her to float. Houyi tried to stop her, but couldn't reach her and he didn't want to shoot her down with an arrow. Chang'e kept floating until she reached the moon.
Legend of the Moon Cakes
Another Chinese Moon Festival legend states that moon cakes with paper messages inside were used to organize a coup against the Mongols during the Yuan Dynasty. The Mongols were overthrown on the night of the Moon Festival.
Chinese moon cakes are small, baked cakes eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Moon cakes are made with egg yolks and come with a variety of fillings made from bean paste, lotus seeds, fruits, and sometimes even meat. The cakes are round, symbolizing the full moon. They’re made with lard and are a heavy treat. Most share one moon cake with friends.
The Chinese vampire is called the chiang-shih. As legend states they may appear to look human. There are others that are a green color with long gray hair. This is why I used the contrast for the creatures in this tale. The evil vampires looking more like the hideous creature of nightmares. If only all monsters could be so obvious.
The Chinese believe a person has two souls. The superior soul can leave a sleeping body, appear as the body’s double and walk the earth. However if the two souls remain separated
for long there can be dire consequences.
A chiang-shih is created if the body has suffered a violent death, improper burial or by an incantation. The transformation is thought to take place prior to burial.
People would protect themselves from the chiang-shih by using salt and of course, like most vampire legends, they used garlic to ward off the living dead. A chiang-shih could be chased away by loud noise and it was believed they could be killed with thunder. If the chiang-shih matured to the white-haired stage and could fly, the creature could only be killed by a bullet or thunder. The body could also be cremated.
I intertwined the autumn moon festival, the myth of the moon goddess and the legend of the chiang-shih to create this exciting tale in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown.
In celebration of the Moon Festival, AUTUMN MOON is free today only at Amazon Kindle. Enjoy the tale!
About Autumn Moon:
Jairec's holiday in San Francisco turned into a living
nightmare when he's attacked by a chiang-shih, a Chinese vampire. He has until the end of the Moon Festival to convince Autumn, an herbalist, to hand over the elixir of life. Without it he will become the white-haired demon for all eternity. Only Autumn believes he's delusional. The elixir of life is a legend.
When a mysterious attack leaves the victim drained of blood, Autumn is forced to believe monsters really do exist. The master chiang-shih is raising an army with the intent of taking over Chinatown and he is determined to have Jairec and Autumn at his side.
Karen Michelle Nutt's Website