There are many tales about Chang'e, but there's well-known story regarding the origin of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. In a very distant past, ten suns had risen together to the heavens, thus causing hardship for the people. The archer Yi shot down nine of them and was given the elixir of immortality as a reward, but he did not consume it as he did not want to gain immortality without his beloved wife Chang'e. However, while Yi went out hunting, Fengmeng broke into his house and forced Chang'e to give up the elixir of immortality to him, but she refused to do so. Instead, Chang'e drank it and flew upwards towards the heavens, choosing the moon as residence to be nearby her beloved husband. Yi discovered what had transpired and felt sad, so he displayed the fruits and cakes that his wife Chang'e had liked, and gave sacrifices to her.
On Mid-Autumn Day, the full Moon night of the eighth lunar month, an open-air altar is set up facing the Moon for the worship of Chang'e. New pastries are put on the altar for her to bless. She is said to endow her worshipers with beauty.
The painting The Moon Goddess Chang E, Ming dynasty
Chang'e was mentioned in a conversation between HoustonCapcom and the Apollo 11 crew just before the first Moon landing in 1969:
Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.
In 2007, China launched its first lunar probe, a robotic spacecraft named Chang'e 1 in the goddess' honour. A second unmanned probe, named Chang'e 2, was launched in 2010. A third Chang'e spacecraft, a robotic lunar rover dubbed Chang'e 3, landed on the moon on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at about 9:12 p.m., Beijing time, making China only the third country in the world to achieve such a moon feat after the former Soviet Union and the United States. The lander also delivered the robotic rover Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") to the lunar surface to begin its months-long driving mission. It has performed the first lunar soft landing since the Russian Luna 24 mission in 1976.
In popular culture
Chang'e's story was adapted in 2003 into a Chinese TV period drama titled Moon Fairy, starring Singapore actors Fann Wong and Christopher Lee.
Chang'e appears in Wu Cheng'en's novel Journey to the West and also TV adaptions of the novel. Her story slightly changed from her going to the Moon on her first try to going to the heavens, and would later be rewarded to live in the Moon after an incident which involved her and Zhu Bajie.