What to do in Vietnam this Mid-Autumn Festival

What to do in Vietnam this Mid-Autumn Festival

Three things you should not miss this Mid-Autumn in Vietnam. Find yourself surrounded by the festival ambience and sense of nostalgia on every street of Vietnam. Follow and discover what makes Vietnam Mid-autumn one of the most special festivals of the year.

First of all, discover the street

As Vietnamese usually say, Mid-Autumn or Full Moon Festival (and “Trung Thu” in Vietnamese) is the time to travel back to the most beautiful ‘season’ of our lives – childhood. The festival is also known as Children’s Festival because of the event’s emphasis on children.

Hanoi Old Quarters painted in red with traditional handicrafts
Hanoi Old Quarters painted in red with traditional handicrafts.

In the past, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a chance for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season, usually by September (Mid-August in the Lunar calendar). The and the parents were anxious to spend time with their children and do something special with them, as well as celebrate the harvest, after spending much time working hard and away from the family.

Star lantern is the most popular traditional toys
Star lantern is the most popular traditional toys for children in Vietnam every Mid-autumn festival.

So in this time, parents rushing in order to thoroughly prepare for the happiest night for the kids. The main activities include eating moon cake, carrying carp-shaped lanterns, dragon dancing and worshipping. This is also the time for family members to gather around. But nowadays, many people, especially youngsters, tend to go out. You can see streets of Vietnam are brightened up with colourful lanterns in various shapes, get louder with the laughs of the goers, all under the brightest and roundest moon of the year.

Dragon dancing is a tradition in many festivals of Vietnam
Dragon dancing is a tradition in many festivals of Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Several days before Trung Thu, streets in the Old Quarters (like Luong Van Can Street in Hanoi, or the whole Old Quarters of Hoi An, the lantern corner in District 5 of Saigon) are full of traditional and modern toys. The most popular one and also the traditional toys of Vietnam is the Star lantern, traditional masks of children’s favourite characters and other kinds of masquerade costumes. Dragon dancing usually takes place on the street, accompanied by a team of drummers and a man pretending to be Ong Dia – a Vietnamese Earth God. Pedestrian Streets in Saigon and Hanoi are often crowded these days. People might just pause their walking to join in traditional games on the street. So just don’t mind the crowd. And join in the joyful ambience on every corner of Vietnam under the full moon.

Make and eat your mooncakes

Vietnamese traditional mooncakes
Vietnamese traditional mooncakes sweetness harmonize with the gentle bitterness of warm tea.

Mooncakes are the specific cakes and are only on this festival. Mooncake, which is made from the flavour, meat, egg, dried fruit, pumpkin’s seed, peanut, is so sweet and good tasting. This special cakes of the Autumn is a symbol of Luck, Happiness, Health and Wealth on the Mid-Autumn day. Vietnamese mooncakes can be in roundish shape with floral patterns, in the shape of a carp fish or a herd of pigs. Recently, people have created many other types of mooncakes, such as crystal mooncake (made with jelly instead of flour) or even ice cream mooncake. You can buy it easily from ant court on the street.

Carp fish is a symbol of wealth and happiness in Vietnamese culture.

Nowadays, many hotels, restaurants or centres hold mooncake classes for everyone to join in and make their own cakes with reasonable price. This is an activity you should not miss, especially if you travel with children. Perfect ways for the kids to celebrate the full moon.

And much to your surprise, go to museums and historical sites

Museum and historical site is normally not an exciting place for the most of us. But when Mid-Autumn comes, many of them start providing special activities to celebrate Vietnamese culture. It ranges from introducing and making Vietnamese toys (most well-known are the traditional masks made from paper and glue, To He and the paper lantern), traditional sports and games, handicraft making and so on. They often depict the festival scene from the past, too. You will also have a chance to see Vietnamese traditional art performances like water puppet, Cheo or Tuong (a type of old musical show) of stories of the origin of Mid-Autumn. For those who love to discover the authentic culture of Vietnam, these places are absolutely ideal. It’s also very suitable for the kids.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology usually organise programs to learn about traditions annually
The scene of the moon festival of the past in the Old Imperial Citadel, Hanoi

Recommended places for you:

Wish you a happy Full Moon Festival!

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