More than a family event, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an event that seems to be specially made for Vietnamese children. Street dances, star-shaped lanterns, and sumptuous mooncakes are few of the fun elements to expect in this celebration referred to as Tet Trung Thu in Vietnamese.
The festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Whether the date falls anywhere from late September or early October, the activities that occur remain the same. The festival sees numerous households arrange an altar to display a slew of offerings to honor the day of the brightest full moon.
These edible offerings include delectable square or round cake called mooncake. These cakes are filled with sumptuous ground beans, lotus seeds, and egg yolk. Other offerings include biscuits, fruits, jellies, bananas, mango, apples, and grapefruits all of which are prepared by adults and parents. Most of these delicacies carry intricately cute designs bearing images of a mouse, cat or dog.
Meanwhile, kids make the most of the festival by creating a fun commotion using drums and accompany these with festive dancing. Shops also sell star-shaped lanterns. These are intended to be carried during the evening.
What is the origin of the festival?
The Mid-Autumn Festival originated more than 4,000 years ago during the Red River Delta’s Rice Civilization. According to Chinese legend, the festival is a time for parents to make up for the lost time they did not spend with their kids after the season of harvest. September is the usual month for harvest.
History claims that parents who felt anxious and guilty for working hard and not spending precious time with their family decided to celebrate the harvest with their kids under the full moon. The moon represented prosperity and fullness. Thus, the creation of the Mid-Autumn Festival to allow families to bond with their children.
Why are there lanterns?
The use of lanterns during the festival was said to be based from a legend. It was said that a carp spirit victimized and killed many people during Mid-Autumn evening. This resulted to people refusing to go out of their homes come night. A wise man then decided to create a lantern shaped similar to a carp. He placed a stick in its belly and told people to freely walk during the night with the carp-shaped lantern. This resulted to the carp spirit feeling terrified by the sight of the carp lantern thus ending its killing spree.
Now, kids made it a tradition to carry paper lanterns under the moonlight while devouring mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn festival.
Mooncakes are made from meat, egg, pumpkin seed, peanut, and dried fruit. This sweet-tasting delicacy are enjoyed by both children and adults. Their presence during this joyous event is said to symbolize happiness, luck, health and prosperity.
Vietnamese folklore tells the story of Chi Hang. Her image is said to be visible on the surface of the moon. Kids look for her during the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival as they offer to her various cakes and fruits which are believed to be her favorites.