Posts Tagged ‘ancient Chinese belief’

“Look up at the sky, could you see the color of the moon was different tonight?” my paternal grandma Yim Mun asked, pointing to the night sky one night long ago.

As a young child playing with some kids from the neighborhood just outside Dad’s shop that night, I  stopped in the middle of our ‘Hide and Seek’ game to gaze hard at the sky.

The moon would normally appeared in silvery white to us. But on that special night, it was reddish-brown with a tinge of orange hue. Of course I was curious and could not understand why it was so different from the moon we normally saw.

“Why was the moon like this, Grandma?” I remembered asking her.

Grandma was a superstitious woman. She was well-versed in classical Chinese texts and could read the “Tung Shing 通勝” or Chinese almanac. Celestial phenomenons like the solar or lunar eclipses were well documented in this book.

“According to ancient Chinese beliefs, the Heavenly Dog was trying to eat the moon and the moon bled; thus you can see the reddish-brown color on the surface of the moon,” Grandma explained.

“To chase the Heavenly Dog away, the people in the olden days came out from their homes and made a lot of noises to frighten the dog away. People bang on pots and pans, set off firecrackers or even fired cannons into the air to chase the dog,” she said.

I was awed by her explanation and was overcame by a sense of fear, that if the moon was indeed eaten up by the dog, we would lose it.

Of course that was many years ago when I was a naive little girl and now I knew better.

A lunar eclipse happened when the earth passed between the moon and the sun. And that was exactly what happened just now, December 10th 2011, a few hours after sunset.

My family and I watched it from the verandah and tried to capture some photos of this rare event but unfortunately, my camera was not powerful enough to capture it clearly. It lasted about fifty minutes before things returned to normal again.

Some people gathered on the street below to watch it too and recorded it with their mobiles. There was an air of excitement.

Of course I told my children what my Grandma told me about the lunar eclipse when I was a little girl and how I was taken in by her story. They laughed and told me the scientific explanation of a lunar eclipse, thanks to the science subject which they had already studied in their primary school days.  Children are indeed smarter now.

Did you watch the lunar eclipse too?

Note:  The older generation today still refers a lunar eclipse as “Tin Kow Sik Yuet” which was translated as “Heavenly Dog Eats the Moon.”

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