Join us in celebrating this traditional Vietnamese holiday filled with lanterns, mooncakes, and joyous festivities. This annual event is a time for family reunions, as loved ones gather to appreciate the full moon and offer prayers for good fortune. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the cultural significance of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Save the date and mark your calendars for October 1 as we come together to celebrate this cherished tradition.

The festival holds great popularity throughout the entire country, especially among the vast rural population that largely comprises of farmers. Similar festivals are also celebrated in various Asian countries.

Now is the opportunity to commemorate a successful harvest and engage in lively festivities. Participants should note that this year’s traditionally exuberant event may exhibit a more subdued atmosphere, with children donning dragon attire and taking necessary precautions, such as wearing face masks and exercising care in crowded areas.

During this time, young individuals participate in the age-old tradition of carrying lanterns, commemorating the legend of a man named Cuoi. According to the tale, Cuoi clung to a miraculous banyan tree, which ascended to the moon. It is believed that a person can spot Cuoi seated underneath the tree if they gaze intensely at the moon. Additionally, the moon appears exceptionally radiant during this season, as it reaches one of its lowest positions in the sky.

In the weeks preceding the festival, it is customary for local children to diligently rehearse their drumming skills, while parents scurry about the markets in search of mooncakes and other delicacies to enhance the jubilant occasion. While the familiar sounds of drumming seem to be absent this year, I sincerely hope that the children will derive immense joy and create lasting memories during this festive time. It is essential to acknowledge the challenges faced by children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, where they were deprived of valuable lessons, confined to their homes, and unable to socialize with their peers.

The festivities surrounding parties and family gatherings commence long before the designated evening. It is a customary sight to observe ancestral shrines adorned with delectable mooncakes and other treats that are reserved for consumption at a later time. Among the popular choices are the soft and adhesive banh deo cakes, as well as the baked banh nuong cakes.

Naturally, during the celebration, you will spot children dressed in traditional lion dance attire, but the entire event may require some explanation. Specifically, there will be one dancer, adorned with a cheerful expression, who will lead the procession. This dancer symbolizes the Earth God, known as Ong Dia, and serves as a gesture of gratitude for the bountiful harvest provided by the earth. The lion is then invited into homes or businesses to bring good fortune for the upcoming year. The objective of the dance is to create a lively and humorous atmosphere. Children engage in this activity for enjoyment and receive a sweet treat from the hosts as a token of appreciation. On the other hand, older and larger boys often form semi-professional groups and some towns and villages organize competitions for them.

This cartoon shows kids enjoying lion dance during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

This cartoon shows kids enjoying lion dance during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

The festival holds great significance in preserving Vietnam’s cultural heritage and passing down traditional stories and songs. It serves as an exemplary educational experience, particularly for the younger generations. Families can be observed riding on motorbikes from one drum group to another, allowing their children to partake in the festivities and engage in drumming activities if they are of appropriate age. Additionally, toy shops thrive during this time, catering to the demand for costumes and masks used for the festival.

The festival holds great value in promoting poetry, dance, arts, and crafts, although this aspect is not widely recognized. Numerous schools actively engage young students by teaching them the traditional stories associated with the festival, and encouraging them to create vibrant decorations for the event. Furthermore, older students lend their assistance by collaborating in groups to construct elaborate displays using bamboo, wood, and various colorful materials. These intricate works of art can often take several weeks to complete and are showcased within the school premises or the local people’s committee hall.

This year’s celebration serves as a significant expression of our collective relief from the challenges and limitations imposed by social distancing. In the rural areas, where self-sufficiency in food production is still prevalent, a bountiful harvest is a matter of great significance and reverence. Despite being Westerners, we sometimes fail to acknowledge the deep value of our relationship with nature, even though many countries around the globe host events to honor the blessings bestowed upon us by Mother Nature.

As the effects of climate change continue to escalate and extend, it is imperative that we develop a deep appreciation for our planet. Emulating the teachings of the Vietnamese, teaching our children to cherish and protect the environment becomes even more crucial.

Despite the challenges we face, it is truly a momentous occasion to be alive and experience the joy. Wishing everyone a joyful and exuberant Mid-Autumn Festival!