Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam – What to expect & do

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, also known as Tết Trung Thu, is a vibrant and fun cultural celebration. As a traveler in Vietnam during this festival, you can expect to witness colorful lanterns lighting up the streets, captivating dragon dances performed by energetic dancers, and the aroma of traditional mooncakes filling the air. It is a time when families gather, and children participate in lively activities, making it an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture and taste some delicious treats.

The story of Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, also known as Tết Trung Thu, has a rich story and history associated with it and foten strong association with the moon.

It’s ancient origins are deeply rooted in agricultural traditions. It is believed to have originated during the Shang Dynasty in China and gradually spread to neighboring countries, including Vietnam. The festival traditionally coincides with the autumn harvest season, serving as an occasion for farmers to celebrate their hard work and express gratitude for a good harvest.

One of the prominent legends behind the Mid-Autumn Festival revolves around a mythical figure named Cuội. According to the folklore, Cuội was a woodcutter who lived during ancient times. He accidentally discovered a sacred banyan tree that had the power to connect heaven and earth. As he attempted to climb the tree, he was separated from his wife and children and became immortal, forever wandering in search of them on the moon.

Another aspect of the festival involves the worship of the Moon Goddess, also known as Chị Hằng. Legend has it that she selects a rabbit companion to accompany her on the moon. The rabbit is believed to symbolize purity and longevity. The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the connection between children and the Moon Goddess, as children are often considered the purest and most innocent beings.

When is Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam?

The Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest. This date usually falls in September or early October.

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

1. Lanterns

lanterns hanging during Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Lanterns are an important part of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. People, especially children, carry and display colorful lanterns in various shapes and sizes. These lanterns are often adorned with images of the moon, animals, or characters from folklore. The glowing lanterns illuminate the night, creating a festive atmosphere and symbolizing the moon’s radiance.

2. Dragon Dances

Dragon dance during Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The dragon, believed to bring good luck and fortune, is represented by a long dragon-shaped structure carried by a team of dancers. The dragon dances can be witnessed in various public spaces, streets, and cultural events throughout Vietnam, including major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It is great to see their rhythmic movements, colorful costumes, and traditional music. These performances are a highlight of the festival, attracting locals and visitors to experience the festive atmosphere and cultural traditions.

3. Mooncakes and traditional treats

moon cakes served during Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Mooncakes, a traditional delicacy, play a central role during the festival. These round pastries typically have a sweet filling made from lotus seed paste, red bean paste, or other ingredients. They are exchanged and enjoyed among family members and friends as a symbol of unity and good fortune. Other traditional treats, such as sticky rice cakes, fruits, and candies, are also shared during the festivities.

4. Children’s Activities

kids activities during Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The Mid-Autumn Festival is especially cherished by children. They participate in lantern processions, where they carry colorful lanterns and parade through the streets. They also enjoy various activities such as lion dances, traditional games, and performances of traditional songs and dances.

5. Moon Worship

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, people engage in moon worship as a way to express gratitude and seek blessings. Families gather outdoors or near windows to admire the moon’s beauty and make offerings such as fruits, sweets, and incense. This act of worship reflects the cultural reverence for the moon as a celestial symbol.

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