Festival gala reaches for the moon in its bid to thrill

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To celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Saturday, Chinese people will often gather with families, eat mooncakes and watch star-studded television galas.

A good option this year will be Adventures of Mid-Autumn Festival, set to be livestreamed at 6:30 pm on Friday via online platform Youku and hntv.tv. At 8:20 pm on the same day, the show will be broadcast on Henan Satellite TV and global streaming platforms, including China Daily's mobile app, YouTube and Twitter accounts.

"We want to creatively decode the festival, which is about Chinese people's romanticism, philosophy and values," says the show's chief director Chen Lei.

The show is part of Chinese Festivals, a television program series produced by the Henan Broadcasting System that has gone viral online.

A successful example is Night Banquet in a Tang Dynasty Palace, which debuted during last year's Spring Festival holiday. With inspiration from Henan Museum's glazed pottery figurines, female dancers were dressed in Tang Dynasty (618-907) costumes and traditional makeup during the program.

Chen says the show's keynote is inspired by a famous poem about Mid-Autumn Festival by Song Dynasty (960-1279) scholar Su Shi. A translation by renowned translator Xu Yuanchong goes, "Men have sorrow and joy; they part or meet again. The moon is bright or dim and she may wax or wane. There has been nothing perfect since the olden days. So let us wish that man will live as long as he can! Though miles apart, we'll share the beauty she displays."

The show features singing, dancing and language programs, presenting traditional rituals and elements for the festival.

"It's a tradition for the Chinese to worship the moon, which also cures our sorrow during its waxing and waning phases. Reunion is also the festival's main theme," Chen says.

"Our focus is to tell different stories about the festival in the show. Most songs and dances are original and we also combine quyi (folk art forms) with pop music."

As the festival is also celebrated in many other Asian countries, Chen tries to present the show from an international perspective and to move viewers with humanity, promoting traditional Chinese culture to a larger audience.

Legend has it that when Chang'e secretly eats a pill of immortality given to her husband-the mythical archer Houyi-her body becomes light and she floats up to the moon. She becomes known as the moon goddess and lives there with her pet, the Jade Rabbit.

The show also tells stories about the duo's adventures on the moon. During Mid-Autumn Festival, because so many people make their wishes to the moon, they are too busy to visit the mortal world, so they stay on the moon to help satisfy the desires of some of those people-recounted in some touching stories that unfold throughout the show.

In the show, Chang'e realizes that laying the past to rest is also a kind of satisfaction. Chen says he hopes it can present to viewers the idea that, even in a fast-paced society, people can pay attention to their inner heart, cultivate their moral character and become the best versions of themselves.

The exploration of the moon and its mysteries is a shared and eternal desire of all humans, not only in legends like the story of Chang'e, but also in reality.

Another program tells the story of Wan Hu, an official from the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), who tried to fly by tying himself to a chair powered by 47 rockets that he made, and holding two large kites in his hands.

Unsurprisingly, he sacrificed his life, but it was believed that he was the first man to try to fly to space with the help of rockets. A crater on the moon has been named Wan-Hoo, after "the legendary attempted astronaut".

The show also summarizes the achievements of the aerospace industry both in China and abroad.

"We're striving to put ourselves into the shoes of the audience, to create excellent visual effects, good content and true emotions, hoping to have empathy with them," Chen says.

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