The Mid-Autumn Festival – known as “Tet Trung Thu” in Vietnam is one of the biggest holidays in the country. It traditionally held on the 14th and 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month. This year, the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival occurs on September 23 and 24. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most popular festivals in Vietnam, and has been significant to Vietnamese families for many years.
The Story/ Legend of Mid-autumn festival in Vietnam
One of the most folktales associated with the Mid-autumn festival in Vietnam is the legend of Cuội, whose wife accidentally urinated on a sacred banyan tree. The tree began to float towards the moon, and Cuội, trying to pull it back down to earth, floated to the moon with it, leaving him stranded there. Every year, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, children light lanterns and participate in a procession to show Cuội the way back to Earth. And also the day Hang Nga and Cuoi comes down to the earth, enjoy a party with children under a full light of the moon.
It’s also a tradition for the Vietnamese to light lanterns during the Mid-Autumn night. A legend went that a carp spirit once killed many during Mid-Autumn night, so that no household dared go outside that night. Later, a wise man thought of an idea: he made a carp-shaped lantern with a stick in its belly, and then advised people to walk at night with a carp lantern in hand. The carp spirit was terrified by the light from the carp-shaped lanterns, and dared not go out to kill at Mid-Autumn since then.
Moon cakes are the specific cakes and are only on mid-autumn festival in Vietnam. Moon cake, which is made from flavour, meat, egg, dried fruit, pumpkin’s seed, peanut, is so sweet and good tasting. Everyone sounds “How delicious Moon cakes are!” after tasting them and can’t say no with them. Moon cakes symbolize Luck, Happiness, Health and Wealth on the Mid-Autumn day.
How Do the Vietnamese Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?
Various activities are held to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam. The main activities include worshiping the God of Earth, carrying carp-shaped lanterns and watching a lion dance parade.
1.Worshiping the God of Earth
Usually, a worshiping platform is set up in the yard during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, on which mooncakes, fruit, and snacks are laid. Later, family members sit together to eat the food while appreciating the moon.
The platform is not taken down until midnight, when the food has been completely eaten. Most families also set up a special platform for children, so that they can enjoy food at anytime during the evening.
2. Carrying Carp-Shaped Lanterns
Carrying carp-shaped lanterns is an important custom of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.
It’s also a tradition for the Vietnamese to light lanterns during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. A legend states that a carp spirit once killed many people during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, so that no household dared to go outside during that night.
Later, a wise man thought of an idea: he made a carp-shaped lantern with a stick in its belly, and then advised people to walk at night holding a carp-shape lantern. The carp spirit was terrified by the light from these lanterns, and has not dared to go out to kill anyone during the Mid-Autumn Festival since then.
Nowadays, children hold various kinds of paper lanterns and play in the moonlight, while eating mooncakes during the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
3. Watching the Lion Dance Parade
At night, groups of children parade through the streets, going from door to door and asking the owners for their permission to perform the lion dance. If it is agreed then the children will put on a show, which is believed to bring luck and fortune. Afterwards, the owners will give the children ‘lucky’ money for their gratitude.
If you take a walk around a local town, you might be able to see lion dancers perform on the street. Accompanied by the energetic rhythm of the drum, in their shimmering costumes, the “lions” enter shops, showing off their best dance moves, and will not leave until they get money from the shop owners, as a special festival treat. It’s like the “Trick or Treat” tradition on Halloween, except for the fact that passersby can get the chance to enjoy the lions’ impressive dancing performance for free.
4. Other Mid-autumn Festival Activities
In addition, a variety of interesting literary and art activities are held throughout Vietnam during the Mid-Autumn Festival, as well as offering sacrifices to dragons, dragon boat races, and lantern fairs, adding much luster to the festival.
Nowadays, although some of the traditional toys have been replaced by modern toys, the meaning and the performance has been kept and developed. It is certain that the Mid-Autumn day is extremely important for Vietnamese people. And this festival is a typical example of the traditional culture of the Vietnamese.