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Mid-Autumn Festival Posted by on Sep 20, 2021 in Culture, Events, Vocabulary

It’s the full moon again. Step outside this evening to view the round and bright moon. Better yet, set a table in a yard and sip some tea while munching on moon cakes and watching the moon with your loved ones. Yes, it’s a special time of the year, especially for children in Vietnam. It’s Tết Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival).

The celebration of Tết Trung Thu is always on the full moon of August in the lunar calendar. In other words, it’s on ngày rằm tháng tám âm lịch (15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar), when the moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest of the year. This year it falls on Tuesday, September 21 in the Gregorian calendar.

Tết Trung Thu in Vietnam is also known as Tết Nhi Đồng (Children’s Festival) or a lesser-known name, Hội Hoa Đăng (Lantern Festival). This festival is particular to children. The highlights are the colorful lanterns of different shapes and colors, the moon cakes, the Lion dance, and the children’s parades. It’s an inclusive festival for everyone. Children have fun with the parade to show off their lanterns and other crafts, while adults have fun eating moon cakes along with friends or family members and watching the children play.

You don’t need to remember when Tết Trung Thu is because the signs are everywhere on the street weeks before the events, with shops bursting with lanterns, masks, and moon cakes for sale. Although the main celebration is on the evening of ngày rằm tháng tám âm lịch, children can’t wait and start milling around the neighborhood with their lanterns to show off what they got from the store or made their selves with paper days before the event.

Let’s start with some common vocabulary that you will hear during Tết Trung Thu.

VOCABULARY

Vietnamese English
Tết Trung Thu Mid-Autumn festival
Tết Nhi Đồng/ Tết Thiếu Nhi Children’s festival
Lồng đèn Trung Thu Mid-Autumn Lantern
Rước lồng đèn Lantern parade
Múa Lân Lion dance
Bánh Trung Thu Moon cake
Bánh dẻo Sticky cake (like mochi)
Bánh nướng Baked cake
Bánh thập cẩm Combination Cake
Ông Trăng Mr. Moon
Chị Hằng Nga Miss Hang Nga (legendary Moon Goddess)
Chú Cuội Mr. Cuoi (legendary figure)
Cây đa Banyan tree

LỒNG ĐÈN TRUNG THU (MID-AUTUMN LANTERN)

Every child will have his/her own lồng đèn to go rước lồng đèn. Lồng đèn come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and are commonly made with bamboo frames wrapped with cellophane or other paper. I would say the most popular shape is the star, then fish, butterfly, rabbit, chicken, or other animal shapes. Inside the lantern is a place to hold a small wax candle. The children light their candle and walk in the parade. Needless to say, many children cry wildly when his/her lantern catches fire and burns from careless handling.

BÁNH TRUNG THU (MOON CAKES)

While the children get to pick the colorful lanterns, the adults pick the different types of Bánh Trung Thu. There are two types: bánh dẻo and bánh nướng. Both have a round or square shape. For children, there are some animal shapes. Most common is the mini baked pig shape cake. Both bánh dẻo and bánh nướng come with different types of filling, including mung bean paste, lotus seeds, ferment-salted egg yolks, and nuts. My favorite is bánh thập cẩm with the combination of sweet and salty filling ingredients. In general, they all are super sweet. Thus, they’re good to munch with a cup of warm tea.

MID-AUTUMN ACTIVITIES AND CHILDREN POPULAR SONGS

The spirit of Tết Trung Thu is expressed through the lantern parades, lion dances, and music. On this occasion, you would hear kids singing some popular children’s songs on television programs, or while doing a casual parade in the neighborhood. Almost all children know the song “Thằng Cuội” (Mr. Cuoi) or “Rước Đèn Tháng Tám” (August Lantern Parade), or “Ông Trăng Xuống Chơi” (Mr. Moon is Coming Down to Play). Hearing them every year while growing up in Vietnam, it always brings back happy memories of Tết Trung Thu when I hear them again. Indeed, those mid-autumn tunes are bouncing in my head as I’m writing this blog. Let me share them with you via these YouTube videos.

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Comments:

  1. Donna J Dart:

    Really enjoyed the videos with this blog.

  2. Kandle Dart:

    @Donna J Dart Thank you!


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