Besides Lunar New Year Eve, the biggest holiday in the year, Mid-Autumn Festival (Tet Trung Thu in Vietnamese) is the second notable traditional celebration in Vietnam. Standing for Vietnam’s cultural beauty, the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the outstanding activities in many Vietnam Family Tours. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam with the kids in the Autumn, this colourful festival will be a remarkable experience during your trip.
Like many other Asian countries, the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is also a traditional event to celebrate the biggest full-moon in the year, which follows the Lunar Calendar (Moon Calendar). It is said that this festival originated in the Red River Delta's Rice Civilization thousands of years ago. The festival has gained popularity during centuries and is well-maintained until now.
Mid-Autumn Festival, like its name, is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, which falls into the middle of Autumn, corresponding to mid-September to early October in the Western Calendar with a full moon at night. It is also the time that annual summer harvest time ends up, thus people call it as an East Asian harvest festival. On this special day, all the members of the family gather and prepare various sweets, fruit and they also prepare colourful lanterns and wear many funny masks.
Mid-Autumn Festival plays an essential role in Vietnamese people’s spiritual lives. Not only as a valuable tradition well-maintained throughout generations, but this festival is also a meaningful event to consolidate family interconnection by these following purposes:
Although there are many fundamental concepts celebrated in the Mid-Autumn Festival, in Vietnam, this is the time for the children. As its name in Vietnam, Children’s Festival, from a familiar lunar date that people mostly prepare for worship, this date is the emphasis on the celebration of children as a very special gift for them. It is celebrated after the summer harvest time by parents because they didn’t have time to take care of their kids thoroughly during harvesting. After finishing the main work, they want to make up for this by spending a special date as a meaningful present for the children. Coincidentally, the middle of the 8th Month in Lunar Calender is when the full moon is biggest in the year. Hence they took advantage of this date to create happiness for the children by buying lanterns, colourful masks, celebrating a traditional feast and letting their kids enjoy the lantern parade under the bright Full Moon. Thus, any Vietnamese kid always looks forward to this festival whenever the 8th Month in Lunar Calendar comes.
If Lunar New Year is a long holiday which helps members in the family gather after an entire year far away from home, Mid-Autumn Festival is a short union that keeps close-knit relationship amongst members in the family. It is also said that the roundest and brightest Full Moon in the year on this day stands for the completion as well as family assemblies. People will gather, enjoy the feast, cheerfully share about their own lives and admire the bright moonlight together.
After finishing the fruitful crop, people want to give thanks to their ancestors for the harvest. And due to this special date, people have a chance to come back home together, and they would like to express their thankfulness for the family unions as well. Like traditional worship, the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is also about praying good things for everyone in the family such as success, health, longevity, and a good future. This festival is a great event to teach the children about the tradition, close-knit family relationship, kindness and sharing, solidarity, and respect to their seniors as well as ancestors.
Markets or vendors purchasing Mid-Autumn Festival kinds of stuff are getting busy about half to a month before the main date. Vietnamese parents will buy several items for their kids as well as décor-stuff such as colourful lanterns, especially traditional star-shaped lantern, toys, and funny masks to be ready for a festive date.
Like other Asian countries celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, the typical festive food on that date in Vietnam is mooncake. It is a dispensable delicacy for this festival only, thus foreigners can hardly see this type of cake at other times in the year. Mooncake is a kind of rich pastry typically filled with mashed beans, salted egg yolk, lotus seed paste, salty paste with meat, lemon leaves or many other pastes nowadays. Mooncake is cut into small pieces and shared among family members. As the cake is quite sweet, the traditional way to enjoy this speciality is eating while drinking hot tea, usually green tea. On the occasion of the Mid-autumn Festival, mooncakes are usually used as gifts for families and friends, especially their parents and grandparents. However, Vietnamese people nowadays are also getting accustomed to using mooncake as the customary gift for business to their clients, colleagues, as an expression of their sincere sentiments and wish for a long-lasting partnership.
Besides mooncakes, regional fruit is also a fundamental part of the feast. Traditionally, like Tet Lunar New Year Eve, there are five kinds of fruit arranged on the festive tray. The five-fruit tray of Vietnamese people will be varied depending on each region with juicy, delightsome local fruits. They even decorate the trays for a more attractive appearance with fruit carving, various kinds of sweets, and of course, mooncakes.
On the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, people often prepare a lavish tray of festive food, put it on the ancestral altar to offer their ancestors first as common daily worship. At night, the whole family will gather around the delightsome tray, celebrate the feast by savouring the food, admiring the bright full moon, and letting the children freely play folk games with their lanterns and join the lively lion dance or cheerful lantern parade with other kids. The parade and dance could go through streets in the area and even light up until late at night.
As the 1000-year-old capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a chosen destination for you to know about the local culture as well as the values of the Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam. During this time, you will be able to feel the cheerful atmosphere of thousands of colourful lanterns on the streets, especially around the Old Quarters. Immerse yourself in the Hang Ma Street – a well-known busy street that sells all kinds of traditional and modern toys, colourful lanterns with a large offer for shape and design, and witness Vietnamese local people buying gifts for their children as well as young people visit the street for beautiful check-in photos. Waiting in the queue for hours to buy real traditional mooncakes at famous heirloom old stores on Thuy Khue Street is a remarkable experience for you like a Hanoian. On the Full Moon date, you’d better go to the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake and enjoy the lively atmosphere here, watch the lion and dragon dancing, and live performances. Don’t hesitate to stroll along streets, freely play and enjoy lantern parades with Vietnamese kids under the bright full moon.
Also busy but not noisy in festivals, Hoi An Ancient Town possesses an ultimate charm even on the busiest dates, especially in the Mid-Autumn Festival. Very famous for colourful hanging lanterns along the streets, Hoi An seems to be much more magical in the nightlife, especially on the Full-Moon date. In the daytime, you can join a traditional cooking class to learn how to make traditional mooncakes or take part in a traditional lantern making class here. When the town is lighted up, Hoi An is a dreamy place for anyone seeking a romantic atmosphere at night.
Also, there is a common activity for releasing floating lanterns (candles) on Thu Bon River at night on the 15th date each Lunar Month. And it would be even more exciting on the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The entire river will fully twinkle with hundreds of shining lanterns. It is said that setting them afloat on the water will give you luck and happiness. Entertaining folk games, lion dances in some corners will also amaze your kids and yourself with a traditional Asian festival which could not be more cheerful.
Ho Chi Minh City owns its enchanting attraction during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Besides colourful lanterns streets, fascinating parades and joyful traditional dances and games, the city also has a signature Mid-Autumn Festival with Chinese affection amongst the Chinese community. You can visit China Town in District No.5 to experience the traditional atmosphere in these streets with red lanterns on the date of Full Moon. Amusement parks or renowned landmarks in Ho Chi Minh are also great options for your kids to enjoy the happy and festive vibe in the biggest metropolis in Vietnam.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a memorable experience in the childhood of every Vietnamese child and also a valuable time for families to be well-being together. This festival is one of many other great traditions of Vietnam’s cultural beauty. Although daily life has changed over time in many aspects, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an important part of Vietnamese people’s spiritual lives. Make sure to check out our list for Vietnam Tours which are tailor-made to help you explore our local culture as well as long-lasting traditions. Don’t hesitate to contact our INSIDE TRAVEL Expert Team if you’re seeking a Vietnam trip with experiencing the noticeable festivals throughout the country.
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