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Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The Mid-Autumn Festival, known as ‘Tết Trung Thu’ in Vietnamese, is a cherished tradition in Vietnam. It typically falls in September or early October on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. This festival is deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture and is marked by lanterns, mooncakes, and celebrations. Children especially look forward to it, with dreams of lanterns and mooncakes. Typically, preparations for the festival begin a month in advance, ensuring a magical celebration. In 2023, this special occasion will be observed on September 29th.

Exploring the Origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival

The roots of the Mid-Autumn Festival can be traced back to ancient China, but in Vietnam, it has evolved into a distinct and cherished celebration. One of the most beloved legends recounts the story of Cuoi, a man who clung to a magical banyan tree, soaring to the moon. It’s said that if you gaze at the full moon, you can discern the silhouette of Cuoi beneath a tree. Children play an indispensable role in this festival, parading colourful lanterns through the streets to guide Cuoi back to Earth from the moon.

Lanterns in Hang Ma Street, Hanoi

Lanterns in Hang Ma Street, Hanoi – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Harvest Celebrations and Family Reunions

Tet Trung Thu holds a special place in the hearts of Vietnamese people, especially those living in rural areas who work as farmers. It signifies the peak of the harvest season when the hard work gives way to moments of togetherness with family and loved ones.

Luong Nhu Hoc lanterns street in Ho Chi Minh City

Luong Nhu Hoc lanterns street in Ho Chi Minh City – Photo credit VnExpress

The Art of Preparation

As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, vibrant scenes emerge on the streets of Vietnam. Groups of lion dancers rehearse their captivating routines, filling the air with the spirit of festivity. Mooncake stalls appear at every corner, offering beautifully adorned boxes filled with delectable surprises. City districts collaborate in preparing toys, lanterns, and colourful masks, creating a palpable sense of excitement.

 

Colourful street in Hanoi weeks before the Mid-Autumn Festival

Colourful street in Hanoi weeks before the Mid-Autumn Festival – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Mooncakes: A Taste of Tradition

One cannot truly experience Tet Trung Thu without enjoying mooncakes. Families across Vietnam pay homage to their ancestors by placing a fruit tray with many different kinds of fruits and cakes on ancestral altars.

The two most common types of mooncakes in Vietnam are Bánh Dẻo, which are soft, sticky cakes with a mochi-like texture, and Bánh Nướng, which are baked cakes with a thick wheat crust. These mooncakes come in a seemingly endless variety of flavours, both sweet and savoury, making them perfect for personal enjoyment or sharing with Vietnamese friends and hosts.

Moon cake for Mid Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Moon cake – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Moonlit Revelry and Cultural Significance

The night of the full moon witnesses children parading with brightly coloured lanterns, singing songs as they stroll their neighbourhoods. A male dancer, donning a cheerful moon mask, symbolizes the lunar presence and entertains the crowd with comical movements. This figure, known as the Earth God, Ông Địa, embodies the fullness of the earth and reminds everyone to appreciate its abundance.

Fruits and cakes for a moonlit celebration

Fruits and cakes for a moonlit celebration – Photo credit baodantoc.vn

Lion Dancing: A Celebration of Joy

Lion dancing, or Múa Lân, is an integral and mesmerizing part of the Mid-Autumn Festival’s festivities. Groups of children, each carrying a red lantern, gather to partake in this captivating tradition. The excitement reaches its peak as drumbeats reverberate through the dark streets, signalling the arrival of the mythical lion.

With its wide-open mouth and expressive eyes, the lion embodies both comedy and strength. The agile dancers approach the audience, evoking screams of delight and laughter, particularly from the children. Bathed in the gentle glow of the full moon, the lion’s red sequined body shimmers as it gracefully dances. For Vietnamese children, this enchanting performance on the night of Trung Thu is an unparalleled spectacle yet leaving them with memories of joy and fascination that last a lifetime.

Lion dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Lion dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival – Photo credit qdnd.vn

Best Places to Experience the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Hanoi

If you happen to be in Hanoi before the Mid-Autumn Festival, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Hàng Mã and Lương Văn Can streets. These charming streets come alive with enchanting toys and lanterns, creating a scene of wonder and excitement. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit 87 Mã Mây, where local artisans skilfully craft festival items, offering a glimpse into the festival’s traditions. As the eve of Mid-Autumn approaches, the Youth Theatre on Ngô Thì Nhậm Street and the Children’s Palace on Lý Thái Tổ Street become venues for delightful children’s musical shows.

Hoi An

Hoi An, a town famous for its full moon celebrations year-round, takes its festivities to new heights during the Mid-Autumn Festival. As the festival approaches, this riverside town becomes a captivating centre of activity. Locals and travellers explore the Ancient Town on foot, where the streets come alive with dancers and their drumming troupes performing in front of pagodas and businesses. The air is filled with music and a sense of celebration along the picturesque banks of the Thu Bồn River.

Ho Chi Minh City

In Ho Chi Minh City, Chợ Lớn is home to exciting Mid-autumn festivities. Wander down Lương Như Hộc Street, renowned for its lanterns, masks, and lion heads adorning the sidewalks. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir, a traditional lion head. For over five decades, the shop at 109 Triệu Quang Phục Street has been selling lion heads to the city’s most skilled dancers, a testament to the enduring traditions of the festival.

Hoi An is one of the best places for Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations

Hoi An is one of the best places for Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations – Photo credit @thanhnien.com

Embark on a Journey Through Vietnam's Mid-Autumn Charm

Discover the enchantment of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, where centuries-old traditions, captivating legends, and exuberant celebrations converge to offer a unique and unforgettable experience. Join our Vietnam Family Holiday and choose the ideal date to coincide with this festive festival, giving your children the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cultures. Create lasting memories for your family as we unravel the intricate heritage of Tet Trung Thu and dive into the world of other traditional celebrations.

As Southeast Asia specialists, Amasia take pride in showcasing Vietnam and Southeast Asia as captivating regions that offer authentic experiences, rich cultures, stunning landscapes, and enriching adventures. Our extensive range of travel products and services ensures both domestic and international travellers create unforgettable memories.

Since our establishment in 2004, our team has consistently dedicated ourselves to creating private tours and tailor-made holiday packages in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. As your ultimate travel companion and tour operator, Amasia is here to help you design extraordinary vacation experiences.

Enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hanoi

Enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hanoi – Photo credit @amasiatravel

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