In Vietnam, there are hundreds of festivals organized every year. Besides the Tet Holiday, the Mid-Autumn festival known as Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam usually takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It is a traditional celebration for children to fully enjoy their best time in a year. On this day, family members gather to appreciate the bright full moon, eat moon cakes at night, expressing strong yearnings toward their homes and think of family members who live far away. The origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival derived from the tradition of worshipping the Moon Goddess. The festival is also a time to celebrate a good autumn harvest since fruits, vegetables and grain have been harvested.
Moon-cakes are eaten during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, also sometimes called the Moon-cake Festival. People eat Moon-cakes to express their love for their family and their hope for a happy life. It is associated with the autumn equinox when the moon is supposed to appear at its roundest. The roundness of the moon symbolizes family unity and harmony.
Traditional Moon-cakes are embossed with Chinese characters for “togetherness” or “harmony”. Flowers, vines, a moon, or a rabbit can be used for additional decoration. Many types of fillings can be found in traditional Moon-cakes and often differ based on local culture. Most Moon-cakes consist of lotus seeds, red bean or red date paste. They have one or more whole salted egg yolks at the center to symbolize the full moon.
Lion Dance during Mid-Autumn via the other most visible tradition related to Mid-Autumn festival is the lion dance. On the nights leading up to the holiday groups of children parade through the streets – some of the children maintain a martial beat on drums. These lion dances are fascinating, and huge amounts of children, ranging from little kids to teenagers. The children approach homes and businesses and ask the owners for their permission to perform. If they agree, the children put on a show that is believed to bring a blessing of luck and fortune. Afterwards the host gives the children lucky money as a sign of gratitude.
Perhaps the best place in Vietnam to enjoy the Mid-Autumn is Hoi An, a historical town in the central region of the country. The town’s Old Quarter is densely packed with shops, providing prime target for lion dancers. In the end of this holiday is all about fun, and it is great to see groups of people dancing through the streets, following the people in control of the ‘lion’ to see where they stop next.
Occasionally you will even see a dragon dance, which takes several people to control. A group of young men in control a dragon; their dance attracted a huge crowd. And at one point the man in the animal’s head set off a firework, spewing sparks from the dragon’s mouth and thrilling the crowd. It was great to see these traditions live on, specially Moon-festival , even in a country that is Westernising as quickly as Vietnam.