The Moon has always been one of the symbols that I love. My real Chinese first name is 玥莹 (yueying), the first character of my name stands for moon and the second letter stands for crystal. A lot of people were trying to pronounce my name but it was not a success, so I used Lydia for convenience. The choice these of these Chinese characters are not random – as far as for me. As sometimes, when there is no full moon and only half of the moon was in the sky, it looks bit like 月？
I have one question that has bothered me: when English or Dutch people have a name, is there any meaning in the name itself? For example Jack Ma, his Chinese name is 马云, his family 马 stands for horse, first name is Yun, it is the cloud in the sky. Each letter has a meaning and a purpose.
In ancient Chinese fairy tale and poem, the moon stands for a variety of things, sometimes it is the Love, it is the homesickness, sometimes it is the hope and looking forward towards the future.
Once while sharing Japanese literature and movies with a Japanese colleague, I was reminded of a Chinese story“今晚的月色真美/ 月が綺麗ですね” translates to “the moonlight is shining tonight”. Over than 100 years ago, the great Japanese writer Mr. Natsume Sōseki was holding a translation class. When a man was telling his endless feelings about a woman under the moonlight, one of student translated it into the phrase as “I love you”, yet Mr. Natsume Sōseki translated it into “the moonlight is shining tonight”. Because in Japanese,月つき(Moon)’s pronunciation is tsuki, and 好きすき(like/love)’s pronunciation is suki, the two words has the a very similar pronunciation. Therefore the man used “moonlight” to express his “love” for his lady. Another interpretation is that because of the moonlight is so brilliant, he couldn’t resist the beautiful scenery. So he whispers out of his mind and he wants to share every fine things in life with his love.
This is the Western way of showing love, direct contact, eye to eye.
This is the Asian way, Japanese and Chinese as far as I know.
- Man : ” the moon light is so beautiful tonight”.
- Woman : ” I think so too”.
Perhaps it is quite difficult to grasp the true meaning behind this story. The story is more than 100 years ago and comes from a vastly different culture. In Japanese and and most east Asian culture there is a different tolerance for directness. Saying “I love you” (or sometimes saying “No”) is not an easy task for us, especially the case for the older generation. Traditionally, words like “Love” “爱 ai”(in Chinese) were rarely, if ever, expressed out loud, like in my parents’ generation. Nevertheless, those feelings of love are expressed in the actions of everyday life – the lunch box that prepared for the one, the light like stars in his eyes when he saw her, the holding hands tight in the cold and windy night.
The moonlight I remembered was years ago. I walked with him along the coast. The white and navy blue waves softly blended with the sand. The summer breeze touched my silk dress, while the stars shined in the sky. His hand held mine tight, it was him who brighten my eyes and expelled the darkness from my life. We walked, talked and smiled the whole night as if the time stood by. Later, we went on our different paths, what left is the bright moonlight of that night inscribed in my mind.
Moonlight stands for the ties between families as well. Moon is my first name. Before I left China my dad told me that every time when he looks up at the sky and sees the moon he is thinking of me. When I raise my eyes in the other side of the world, I know we are facing the same moon and I am thinking of my family too. Over the past 10 years I have been away from home, I find peace by sitting under the moonlight and drinking some tea that mama packed for me hoping they are fine back home.
In the lunar calendar, the 15th of August is our moon festival. On that day, the moon should be full and every family member ought to be together enjoying the moonlight and eating mooncake. When I was younger, I never followed this tradition, complained this was too old fashion and that I wanted to hang out with my friend instead. As the years have gone, I have come to gradually understand that it is not about the moon but the family ties and bonds.
There is a fairy-tale that illustrates these points. Thousand years ago there were 10 suns in the sky. All the trees and rivers were burnt out and thousands of citizens were dying from the unbearable heat. The Chines god
could see the people were suffering from the 10 suns. So he sent his greatest archer, Yi, to shoot down the other 9 suns. Yi had a wife – Chang’e, she was one of the most stunning women in Chinese history. So as a reward, the god gave him and his wife two medicines for them to keep them young and beautiful forever. Yi successfully finished the tasks and went home to share the great news with his wife.
However, Yi’s apprentice Meng, was very jealous and forced Chang’e to give over the medicine, Chang’e was very frightened of Meng, and in a moment of desperation, she swallowed the medicines all at once Few moments later, her body became really light, so she was forced to fly to the moon as a result of taking the pills all by herself. The Chinese god felt too sympathy to lock her down in the moon. Therefore every year, in the day of on the 15th of August, Chang’e and Yi were allowed to see each other from the earth to moon.
Giving the unusual situation we are in at this moment, we are probably not able to be home at this time. Being away from the ones we love and having some upsetting moments. Yet I want to read you a Chinese poem to bring you some peace and love, and I may you all have a full moon night with the people that we love and cherishe.
人有悲欢离合,月有阴晴圆缺, Men have woes or joys, part or unite; Moon may wane or wax, be dim or bright.
此时古难全, None has been perfect all the way.
但愿人长久, 千里共婵娟. Just wish we will live long and share, Her beauty, though we’re miles away.
Lydia 30 July 2020 Veghel