Mid-Autumn Magic: Vietnam’s full moon festival
Every year on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually around the end of September, countries across Asia celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Full Moon Festival.
Vietnam is no different, millions of people at home as well as abroad gather with their families and loved ones to celebrate what could be the most beautiful moon of the year. Here’s what you need to know about one of Vietnam’s most sacred holidays.
Where does it originate from?
The full moon of the eighth month of the lunar calendar has been celebrated for 20,000 years across Asian countries. Called Tsukimi in Japan and Chuseok in North and South Korea, this particular date is when the moon’s orbit is at its lowest angle relative to the horizon, making the moon appear larger and brighter than at any other time. any other year. People will gather to watch this auspicious event and pray that it will bring good luck after its appearance.
In the old days, children paraded the stars’ lanterns happily around the street – Photo: @ moontruong.beauty
The legend surrounding the holiday dates back to the 8th century. According to ancient folk legend, Duong Minh Hoang was taken to the moon with the help of a friend who was a shaman, where he witnessed a beautiful dances of the fairies residing there. He then learned their dance, combining it with another local dance called Big Lady. He then spread this dance and its accompanying music throughout his empire and it was the birthplace of the tradition of moon-gazing, singing and dancing.
How is it celebrated?
Since Vietnam is a country of 70 million people, the celebrations vary depending on which region, region, and family. However, mooncakes are a common feature in every household during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These cakes are round, dense and often have some patterned detail on the crust. Typical fillings include meat, eggs, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds or peanuts, and can be sweet or savory. In the weeks leading up to the event, mooncake stands sprang up across towns and cities waiting for patrons, who often buy them in bulk and then take them away as gifts.
Mooncakes and Tea are special dishes for Mid-Autumn Festival – Photo: @ guri.vietnam
The other main tradition surrounding the holiday is lanterns of various shapes and colors, but usually themed with the moon, stars or flowers. On festival days, lanterns are usually led in a procession towards a music-filled main rendezvous, held by children wearing colorful masks with various animal designs. The dragon lion dance is also common, as is the burning of incense and smoke spreading throughout the streets.
Why is it important?
Like Thanksgiving in the United States, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time of year when family members can get together and share the things they are grateful for that have passed. The younger generation respects their older relatives, and the older generation does the same for the younger ones.
Hang Ma Street with festive decorations on display – Photo: @ nhat.bun
Because the festival coincides with the start of the new school year, children and teenagers often receive gifts such as pencil cases and new clothes. However, traditionally, people will celebrate the end of the harvest season and share the food and wine of the houseplants.
Where to get the best experience of the festival?
If given the opportunity, Hoi An is definitely a place not to be missed for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Known year-round as the Lantern City, lucky visitors to Hoi An on the occasion of the full moon enjoy a delicious meal. The entire town is closed to electricity, only lanterns, candles and the natural light of the moon can be seen. Vibrant crowds chatted, sang songs and basked in the full moon’s glow and the loudest of the year, as their ancestors did for millennia.