By Elaine Dunn

     Last month’s “Story” column dealt with China’s version of the creation of heaven and earth by Pangu (盤古). The story ended on the premise that we human beings came from mites off Pangu’s hairy body. Not exactly a pleasant thought.  So this month, I’ll offer up an alternate, and I hope, a more palatable version of how human beings were created according to Chinese mythology - the story of Nüwa.

What’s the story? Pangu (盤古)

by Elaine Dunn


A new year, a new series – on Chinese myths and folktales.

Myths are generally organic, they serve as a basis for social order and rules and customs, and therefore, they change and develop in tandem with the society in which they exist. The Chinese have never been clear in their separation of myth and reality. Sometimes, historical figures are transformed into gods and myths are recounted as history!

What’s the occasion? Dongzhi (冬至) Web Culture Occasion ColoredTangyuan r72

By Elaine Dunn

The longest night. The shortest day. The turning point. Call it what you will, Dongzhi (冬至 ) is the one day Chinese families all around the world still make a point of getting together for a family meal of meat dumplings (mainly in northern China) or tangyuans, glutinous rice balls. This year, Dongzhi falls on Dec. 21.

In Chinese culture, Dongzhi is the Winter (Solstice) Festival, a day that is almost as important as New Year Day. 

Mid-autumn Festival /Zhōng Qiu Jié  ()

By Elaine Dunn, staff writer  

Web Occasion PoetMoon r72

When is Mid-autumn Festival?

Man may have landed on the moon in July 1969; but according to Chinese legends, others may have landed and lived on the moon thousands of years already. And, we’re not talking little green men either! So who are these moon occupants of Chinese folklore? There are many stories associated with the Moon Festival, which is known officially as Mid-Autumn Festival. Depending on which story you choose, the resident on the moon may be a woman, a woodcutter or a rabbit.

What's the occasion? Hungry Ghost Festival / Zhōng Yuán Jié  (中元節)

By Elaine Dunn

When is Hungry Ghost Festival?

Joss sticks for prayers and offerings

Once a year on the evening of Oct. 31, Halloween or All Hallows Eve, kids in the United States and other countries in the Western Hemisphere dress up as ghouls and goblins to go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods, returning home with enough candy to last for months!

In China and many ethnic Chinese communities in Asia from Cambodia to India to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam all share the belief that real ghosts and spirits, hungry ones at that (!),  roam the streets during the entire seventh lunar month each year, which is designated as Ghost Month (鬼月). No benign little trick-or-treaters, these roaming spirits are on the lookout for victims to claim so they can be reborn! This is the scariest and most dangerous month of the Chinese lunar year.

According to tradition ... 

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