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Customs of Dong People in Hunan Province on Mid-autumn Day

(CNTV)

09:31, October 21, 2011

On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a funny custom of "stealing moon vegetables" is popular in Dong villages in Hunan.

According to a legend, on the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, fairies from the Moon Palace would descend to the world and spread nectar over the mortal world. The nectar from fairies is selfless. Therefore, people in that evening might share the fruit and vegetables with nectar together. Dong people named this custom "stealing moon vegetables".

On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Dong girls with umbrellas will choose garden lands of their own lovers to pick melons and vegetables and it would not be considered as "stealing". "Hey! Your melons and vegetables have been taken by me. You please go to my home to have oil-tea!" they also intentionally yell. First, they place red string as if they are fairies from the Moon Palace. If they pick a twin vegetable or fruit, it signifies that they will have happy affections. So, cow peas growing in pairs have become the picking targets. Sisters-in-law also go to others’ garden lands to "steal moon vegetables" this night. However, they wish to pick the fattest melon or a handful of fresh green soybeans, because this symbolizes stout and strong children (maodou, green soybean in Chinese, sounds similar to a word for‘children’in Chinese). Guys also have the custom of "stealing moon vegetables" because they wish fairies from the Moon Palace to grant them happiness as well. However, they can only cook them up to eat in the wild rather than bring them home. "Stealing moon vegetables" gives the Dong village unbounded joy and a magical touch on the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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