Do you know the Jade Emperor? He is the Zeus of Chinese mythology. As the head of all deities, he is the ruler of Heaven, Earth and Hell. It is said that the ninth day of the Chinese New Year is his birthday – one of the largest celebrations in Heaven to which all of the gods will be invited. Thus, today is also called 天日 (tiān rì, the Day of Heaven.)
[caption id="attachment_1959" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Jade Emperor in a Ming Dynasty ink and color painting on silk, 16th century. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.[/caption]
The Jade Emperor is a busy guy during the Chinese New Year. As early as December 25th of the lunar calendar, he disguises himself as an out-of-town visitor and travels down to earth to make sure his rulings have been just and wise. If he sees something unfair, the local gods who are supposed to protect the neighborhood from harm and danger, will be put "under fire". When the Jade Emperor returns to Heaven, waves of worships and rituals start (especially among people believing in Taoism) in the hope that the Emperor will protect their families in the coming year.
The Jade Emperor ritual (bài tiān gōng) at Yuzun Temple in Sanxing, Ilan, Taiwan. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
There are many stories regarding the Emperor’s birthday, and one of them talks about his youngest daughter 七仙女 (Qī xiān nǚ, the seventh fairy.) She was not only the youngest, but also the Jade Emperor's favorite little girl. She fell in love with a layman called Dong Yong who only offers her the best in the world. Therefore, in ancient China, people would gather under osmanthus trees on this day, singing the most beautiful songs to lure her down to earth. If the songs have made her happy, it would be the best present to the Emperor, who in return, would promise a prosperous year.
Now you know how a beautiful song can fill the world with happiness and endless blessings. Did you sing a song today?