When visiting Vietnam around the month of September, you could be lucky enough to witness the Mid-Autumn Festival. Locally known as the Tết Trung Thu, the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in the country and is truly a fun festival to witness. During the celebration, parents would buy presents for the kids, including lanterns, funny masks, and snacks.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also the local’s way to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Before the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, rice is being harvested in the country, which is why parents are often too busy and won’t have time to attend to their children. It is during the festival that they will make up for the lost time by playing with their kids and by giving them lovely presents.
How is the Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrated?
During Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival, several activities will be held all over the country. The main event is to worship the God of the Earth where locals can be seen carrying lanterns shaped like a carp. There are also performances, such as a lion dance parade.
To worship the God of Earth, a worshipping platform will be set up in the yard at the night of the Mid-Autumn festival. During this time, moon cakes, sweets, fruits, and snacks will be served. Family members will then sit together under the moon in order to share the foods. The worshipping platform will not be taken down until midnight comes when all the foods have been totally consumed. Some families will also set up a special platform for the kids so they could partake the food at any time during the evening celebration.
Children can be seen carrying bright and colorful lanterns and take part in processions that would pass all over their neighborhoods. They will be singing songs and some dancers wearing masks will be performing. One dancer will be wearing a happy face mask and will play the role of the Earth God or Ông Địa. He will delight the locals with his funny dance moves and will remind onlookers to always give thanks for the bountiful harvest.
Another highlight of the event is the carrying of carp-shaped lanterns. This tradition is inspired by a local legend. According to the legend, a carp once killed a lot of people during the night celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival in order to scare anyone who would attempt to go outside during that night. Later on, a wise man decided to create a carp-shaped lantern to be used as a torch when going out at night in order to prevent the carp from attacking. Other people followed suit. They believe that the carp lantern will scare the carp away and will not attack them as they go out at night to celebrate.
What Other Activities To Expect
Aside from the worshipping of God and carrying a carp lantern, there are several other activities that one can expect during Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival.
The lion dance is a fun activity to watch. Local dancers can be seen dressed in fascinating costumes while performing fascinating dance moves to the beat of the drums. There are also various literary and art activities. In some places, dragon boat races are being held and some locals would offer sacrifices to dragons. There are also several lantern fairs, which makes the festival even more fun and colorful.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also the perfect time to feast on the delightful moon cakes. All over the country, local families would welcome the festival by arranging a fruit tray on their altars. Each tray will have moon cakes that will serve as offering to their ancestors. These cakes are available in a round or square-shaped and are made by molding elaborate details of carp, flowers, and other geometric patterns.
Where to Witness the Mid-Autumn Festival
The mid-autumn festival is celebrated all over the country but here are some of the cities where you can witness the fun celebration:
- Ho Chi Minh – if you happen to be in Ho Chi Minh, head to the district of Chon Lon, which is known for its exciting festivities during the mid-autumn festival. Make a stop at the Luong Nhu Hoc Street, a street known for its long display of colorful lanterns, funny masks, and unicorn heads.
- Hoi An – this charming town is a popular tourist destination because of its charming streets lined with colorful lanterns and colonial buildings. The town gets even livelier during the Mid-autumn Festival, where locals would gather around for a fun celebration. Performers can be seen dancing to the sound of the drums as they perform traditional dances in front of the temples and pagodas.
- Hanoi – if you’re in the capital city of Hanoi during the Mid-autumn festival, head to the streets of Lương Văn Can and Hàng Mã. During the festival, these streets will be packed with local families shopping for a wide variety of lanterns and toys. There are also local arts and crafts festivals that are truly a joy to watch!