Vietnam is the country with many beautiful festivals. There are hundreds of special festivals each year such as Tet Holiday, the Mid-Autumn festival and Merry Christmas. In this holiday, the Mid-autumn festival is a traditional celebration for Vietnamese children. Trung Thu is the name of the Vietnamese people call. Therefore, it is a unique cultural experience traveler should consider taking part in if they are visiting Vietnam on time. This article will give you some information about what to expect and where you can take part in festivities throughout the country.
For a long time, Vietnamese people suppose that Mid-Autumn Festival originally is held to celebrate the harvest season in order to thanks to the Natural Deities. For several oriental countries, because of seeing the relationship between humans’ life and the moon, on this occasion, people observe moon to predict the weather to prepare for the next harvest. Besides, it is also a great opportunity for parents to make up to their children for the busy time of harvest season. Therefore, within the festival, parents hold several special activities with the hope of bringing happiness to their kids. It is held within the full moon, presenting the fullness and prosperity of life.
Why is the Mid-Autumn festival special in Vietnam?
The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn festival kicks off in the middle of the fall. That’s when the weather turns a little cooler after the unpleasantly hot summer and the moon is a beautiful, perfectly round sphere. It is fantastic and charming with its history. Listening to the name festival, you can know the date of celebration. It is around late September or early October and it is celebrated for a whole day. Therefore, you can search for the date before traveling to Vietnam. The festival falls on the full moon night of Lunar August which is the most beautiful night all year round when the moon is perfectly round and bright in its magically shining gold. Older generations as well look forward to the day to enjoy seeing their descendants having fun under the shining golden moon.
Especially, like some activities on Halloween, Vietnamese festival also has the strange face which brings by many people. October and Lunar August seem to be a favorite time of all children of all cultures.
However, the Mid-Autumn festival hasn’t been approved as an official holiday so children do not have a free day to celebrate it but they are super excited to enjoy a night packed with fun. After school, children go home with full of excitement, they just can’t wait to grab their colorful lantern, light it up and gather with their neighbors’ kids to walk around the village and play folk games. People believe that “Chi Hang”, “Chu Cuoi” – a sort of Vietnamese version of Santa Claus, will bring fun and happiness to children as well. Vietnamese children love these two imaginary characters as the way kids in the West love the lovely white man in that red costume. In addition, mooncake is something you must try!
Vietnamese adults when reflecting on their childhood often recall that they could not easily concentrate on their studies during the day of the festival. Instead of focusing on their subjects, they would rather chit chat, make awesome plans for the great night ahead. Some will show off their lanterns, others also bring along mooncake to class to share with their buddies. Teachers become less tough and more sympathetic to their students as they recognize the magnitude of the day for the children.
The children are gotten with many nice lanterns, special clothing, toys and diverse funny masks such as the clown mask, a lion mask, prince or princess mask from their parents. They will use them for the special performance on the evening of the full moon. Everywhere is fallen in the active and colorful air. Especially, when you go to the countryside, you will admire the clear activities of local children. Actually, children use the beautiful lanterns, wear funny masks, perform fantastic lion dances, sing folklore songs in the house’s grounds or in the streets when the moon is rising. It is really an exciting show.
If you stroll many particular streets, you will grace many shops selling the special products served for the festival. For example, Mooncakes, candies, biscuits, jellies, masks, lamps, and many fruits to decorate in the night. Clearly, they are designed with fun symbols, for example, dog, cat, mouse …
Mooncakes are the specific cakes and are only at this festival. In Vietnam, there are many firms providing the various cakes on the holiday. However, the local people tend to buy the handmade cakes to ensure the quality. Mooncake is made from flavor, meat, egg, dried fruit, pumpkin’s seed, peanut, is so sweet and good tasting. They are two types of plastic cake (Banh deo) and grilled cake (Banh nuong). Everyone sounds “How delicious Mooncakes are!” after tasting them and can’t say no to them. Mooncakes symbolize Luck, Happiness, Health and Wealth on the Mid-Autumn day.
Mooncakes are round sweet treats packed with delicious dried fruits, nuts, bean pastes and lotus seeds. Some come with a sweetened wheat pastry. Others are covered in sticky rice pastry. Not all of them are to westerners taste, especially the ones that have salted egg yolk in the middle. Others taste like a really good Christmas cake or mince pie. You can buy mooncakes from the side of the street, in local bakeries and in upmarket hotels. The cost varies incredibly. A simple mooncake from one of the most popular brands Kinh Đô can be as cheap as 40,000-80,000 VND ($2-$4). if you go to upmarket hotels you can find mooncakes that cost over $75 per cake.
Finally, the Mid-Autumn celebration is the special day of Vietnam country as it helps members of the family to aggregate together in each of year. The child will give their parent the mooncake box to express their gratitude. And the kids will receive the gifts with many good luck wishes before the hard school time on the holiday. In the modern days, although some of the traditional toys have been replaced by others, the meaning of them in this festival has been kept and developed. It means that the Mid-Autumn day is very important for this country. Otherwise, after harvesting the crops, it is as the congratulation for the full harvest. And it really is a good example of the traditional culture of the Vietnamese.
Activities in Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam
What to see in Mid-autumn in Vietnam? Please spend 2 days in this time, it ensures you will get the best feeling in here. There are many funny and interesting activities. Firstly, before the night moon, local people will make the various lanterns. They also prepare funny masks are carefully made by skillful artisans. Nowadays, Vietnamese children create unique and beautiful lanterns based on the traditional ones. Meanwhile, their parents prepare parties including many different foods like Mooncakes, candies, and biscuits for fruits. Mooncake is the most important and specific cake which is only produced in this festival. They have created a sweet and good taste from various ingredients. The meaning of this cake is symbolizing Luck, Happiness, Health and Wealth.
Additionally, during the festival, children are provided with many nice lanterns of all interesting shapes like star, animal, flowers and various funny masks used for special performances in the full-moon evening. Many kids will make the beautiful lanterns by them self. The main activity of the Vietnamese festival is taking the beautiful lanterns, wearing funny and colorful masks. You also admire the performance of fantastic lion dancing, sing the traditional songs around the streets when the moon is rising. That is the most interesting moment of the festival. As this is a chance for family members to reunite and share everything together. The young will express their gratitude to the old, while children will receive love and gifts from their parents.
One of the “Tet Trung Thu” song:
“At Mid-autumn festival,
walk around with lanterns lit.
Take them all across the town,
singing to the autumn moon.
Lanterns all in different shapes, lantern angel, lantern dream,
Lanternfish, or lantern star, lantern swan or butterfly.
Take my lantern to the sky;
take my lantern to the moon!”
Where you go in Mid-autumn in Vietnam?
Mid-Autumn Festival in Hanoi:
Hanoi is 1000-year old capital of Vietnam which is definitely a chosen destination for you to get the experience in the traditional culture of Mid Autumn Festival. During this time, you will be able to feel the atmosphere in the air with thousands of red lanterns on the streets, especially around the Old Quarters. Immerse yourself in the Hang Ma Streets – A colorful busy streets that sell all kinds of traditional and modern toys, observe parents buying gifts for their children. You may want to experience like a Hanoian – Waiting in queue for hours to buy real traditional mooncakes at a famous several generation old store on Thuy Khue Street. This would be special gifts for your family and friends back home.
On the Full Moon night, you can go to the area around Hoan Kiem Lake and enjoy the atmosphere, watch the lion and dragon dancing and live performances on the streets.
Mid-Autumn Festival in Hoian:
Hoian always will be the ideal picturesque place for the Mid Autumn festival. Its atmosphere is quite different from Hanoi, busy but not noisy. If you are able to travel to one of the most beautiful old towns of Vietnam, then you will be very lucky as it is a rare opportunity. The colorful town lit up by hundreds of thousands of lanterns and floating paper lamps will absolutely amaze you. The stunning magical lights do a great job in wonderfully coloring the streets, houses and even the beautiful Thu Bon river running along the town edge.
Not only that, you can try to take the cooking class of mooncakes or take part in a lantern making class. Those new skills surely will surprise your family and friends back home. In some corners, folk games, lion dancers are alive and cheerfully entertaining. This will amaze your kids or even yourself to be back to your happy childhood memory.