September 12th was the Mid-Autumn Festival (Tết Trung thu) in Vietnam. It is also known as the Moon, Mooncake, Children’s or Lantern Festival. It is always held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Lunar Calendar (September 12th this year) when the moon is at its fullest. It is kind of like a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving. The festival day is celebrated with bright lanterns, dance, and Vietnamese parents sharing fairy tales and serving mooncakes under a full moon.
Mooncakes (bánh trung thu) come in all shapes, sizes, flavors and colors. Most have Chinese characters meaning longevity or harmony embossed on the top. They can be filled with nuts, lotus seeds, beans and fruit. Weeks before the festival day, mooncakes are sold everywhere….in bakeries, on the street, restaurants, and hotels. They are given as gifts to family, friends and business associates. Cakes are packaged as a single wrapped in cellophane, a half dozen in an elaborate lacquered box and everything in between.
During Tết Trung thu children parade on the streets, while singing and carrying colorful lanterns. Some of the popular shapes include fish, stars, and butterflies. Tutor Lan took me to meet some of her friends in Cholon, the Chinatown district of Ho Chi Minh City, to see the “lantern street”. It was was truly a sight to behold! Hoping you get a small taste of the festivities in my little harvest moon video:
Originally, this Mid-Autumn Festival came at the end of the harvest season as a way to make up lost time with children after being away so many hours. Today, in addition to celebrating time with children, the festival also promotes education, dance and crafts. And what better time than under a full moon which represents the fullness and prosperity of life? Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa