Enchanting Celebrations: The Magic of Vietnamese Moon Festival
The Vietnamese Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Tet Trung Thu, is a magical and enchanting celebration on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. This festival is a time for families to come together and celebrate the harvest season, as well as to appreciate the beauty of the moon. With its vibrant lanterns, delicious mooncakes, and captivating legends, the Vietnamese Moon Festival is a truly enchanting event that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam. In this article, we will explore this beloved holiday’s fascinating traditions and customs, and discover the magic that makes it so unique.
The origin and meaning of the Vietnamese Moon Festival
The Vietnamese Moon Festival, also known as Tết Trung Thu or Mid-Autumn Festival, has its origin in ancient Vietnamese legends and beliefs. The festival is typically celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which usually falls in September or October.
One of the most popular legends associated with the festival is the story of Cuội. Cuội was a woodcutter who was banished to the moon as punishment for stealing magical peaches from the Jade Emperor. Cuội is often depicted as a man with a tree and accompanied by a rabbit. According to legend, he is said to still reside on the moon and can be seen on clear nights.
The Moon Festival also has agricultural roots and is celebrated as a time of harvest and gratitude. It is a time for families to come together, enjoy traditional foods such as mooncakes and fruits, and appreciate the beauty of the full moon.
Another important aspect of the Moon Festival is the practice of carrying colorful lanterns, often in the shape of animals or legendary figures. These lanterns symbolize the hope for a bright future and the joy of coming together as a community.
Overall, the Vietnamese Moon Festival is a celebration of family, harvest, and legends. It is a cherished holiday for many Vietnamese people around the world.
>> Discovering Vietnamese Holiday Tet: Customs and Traditions
Customs on the Vietnamese Moon Festival day
The customs of the Vietnamese Moon Festival are diverse and varied, depending on each region. However, some common customs include:
Lighting lanterns is one of the most iconic and beloved customs of the Vietnamese Moon Festival. The tradition of lighting lanterns dates back to ancient times. During the eighth lunar month, people believed that the full moon represented the balance of yin and yang. By lighting lanterns, people hoped to bring good luck and prosperity.
Today, the custom of lighting lanterns has become a cherished part of the Moon Festival celebration, especially for children. In the days leading up to the festival, parents take their children to the markets to select the perfect lantern. The lanterns come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, from traditional round lanterns to lanterns shaped like animals, fruits, and cartoon characters. Some lanterns even have LED lights, making them glow even brighter in the dark.
On the night of the festival, children proudly carry their lanterns while walking around their neighborhoods, parks, or public areas. The lanterns create a magical and mesmerizing scene as they sway and float in the night breeze. Parents and grandparents often accompany the children, sharing stories and legends associated with the Moon Festival, such as the story of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon.
After the walk, children gather in groups to light their lanterns. People usually hang the lanterns on trees or bamboo sticks and then raise them high into the sky. Watching the lanterns float up into the night sky is a breathtaking experience for all. It symbolizes hope for growth and a brighter future.
The tradition of eating mooncakes is an integral part of the Vietnamese Moon Festival. People make mooncakes as round, sweet pastries that often have lotus seed paste, egg yolk, or other ingredients such as nuts or fruits as fillings. They are typically quite dense and rich, with a texture that can range from flaky to chewy. Mooncakes come in various types and flavors, reflecting the diverse regional cuisines and cultural influences of Vietnam.
The ancient Chinese created mooncakes to celebrate the harvest and honor the moon goddess, Chang’e, and this is where they have their roots. This tradition has spread to other parts of Asia, including Vietnam, where mooncakes are now a symbol of family reunion and gratitude.
During the Moon Festival, families and friends gather together to enjoy mooncakes and tea, sharing stories and memories from the past year. Mooncakes are a symbol of good luck and a traditional gift during the Moon Festival. Many businesses also offer mooncakes to their employees as a gesture of appreciation and goodwill.
In addition to their cultural significance, mooncakes also have a rich symbolism. The round shape of the mooncake represents the unity and completeness of the family. The filling inside represents the sweetness and harmony of family relationships. The egg yolk in the center represents the full moon and symbolizes reunion and togetherness.
Over time, mooncakes have evolved to include new flavors and ingredients, such as durian, green tea, and chocolate. Some bakers even create intricate designs and patterns on the top of the mooncakes, using molds or hand-carving techniques. Mooncakes are more than just food. They are a symbol of unity, harmony, and togetherness among family and friends during the Moon Festival.
The lion dance
The lion dance is a popular traditional custom during the Moon Festival in Vietnam. There are two performers in the lion costume: a controller and a person playing the lion head. They perform the lion dance, which is known as a traditional dance. People often decorate the lion costume with bright colors and delicate details.
Performers perform the lion dance throughout the streets, parks, markets, or shopping centers during the Moon Festival. Many families, businesses, and organizations also hire lion dance teams to perform at their events.
During the lion dance, performers move flexibly and rhythmically. They demonstrate the lion’s skills, such as jumping and hitting tree branches to seek good feng shui. The controller uses sticks attached to the lion’s head to create animal expressions like turning the head and opening the mouth.
The lion dance is not only entertaining but also brings luck to viewers and has spiritual significance. In tradition, the lion represents strength, fortune, and peace. Performers believe that when they perform the dance, it brings luck, fortune, and health to families, businesses, and communities.
In addition, the lion dance also has cultural and historical importance. Vietnamese people have passed down the lion dance, which has become an integral part of their culture, from generation to generation. It helps introduce Vietnamese culture to the world and contributes to the development of the tourism industry.
The custom of “pha co” “Phá Cỗ” (breaking the offering tray) is also an important tradition during the Moon Festival in Vietnam.
“Pha Co” is a ritual of offering food and fruits to ancestors and deities. Then, the person in charge breaks the tray and distributes the food and fruits to relatives, neighbors, and friends. This custom represents gratitude and respect towards ancestors and the desire to share happiness and blessings with others.
People usually decorate the offering tray, which is made of wood or bamboo, with colorful flowers, fruits, and sticky rice cakes. The contents of the tray vary depending on the region and families. However, they usually include traditional foods such as mooncakes, fruits, and wine.
Before breaking the offering tray, people light incense, bow to pay respect to ancestors and deities and pray for good luck and prosperity. The participants then distribute the food and fruits from the offering tray after breaking them into small pieces.
In some regions, there are also other customs related to “Pha Co”. These include playing “Banh Troi Nuoc” (glutinous rice dumplings floating in a sweet soup). “Banh Chung” (square sticky rice cake) catching game, which adds more fun and excitement to the celebration.
Overall, “pha co” is a meaningful and joyful tradition that brings family members, friends, and neighbors together to share blessings and happiness. It also reflects the Vietnamese culture of respecting ancestors, valuing relationships, and promoting social harmony.
The Vietnamese Moon Festival is a deeply ingrained and magical celebration that brings families and friends together to express gratitude towards ancestors and deities. Customs such as lion dancing, lantern lighting, mooncake making, and “Pha Co” promote social harmony and strengthen community bonds while showcasing the beauty and diversity of Vietnamese culture. Everyone should experience the unique and wonderful celebration of the Vietnamese Moon Festival.