Mid-autumn festival (or Tết Trung Thu in Vietnamese) is among biggest festivals celebrated in Vietnam. The event is annually held on the 15th of the 8th lunar month when the moon is the fullest and brightest as well. Mooncakes stalls can be found everywhere, markets are crammed with colorful toys and decorations while people are eager and happily prepare for the festival far in advance. Tet Trung Thu is a joyous occasion in which the adults express their love to their children, farmers enjoy leisure time after finishing work, people off the streets to anticipate the delightful atmosphere in the beautiful moonlight.

cute toys for children in Mid-Autumn Festival

Origin and Legends

The origin of the Mid-autumn festival was not discussed clearly in any historical documents. Yet many believe the Mid- Autumn festival was a shade of culture entering Vietnam during Chinese domination. A long time ago, at a beautiful night on the 15th August according to the lunar calendar, the king met a fairy in the appearance of an old man with a snow-like white hair. The fairy created a magical rainbow connecting the earth and the moon. The king climbed up the rainbow and had a wonderful excursion on the moon palace. Coming back, as he could not forget the picturesque and marvelous sceneries on the moon, he made the traditions of celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival.
The Vietnamese version of Mid-Autumn festival, however, has its own traditions and legends. The most popular legend related to the mid-autumn festival is about the man named “Cuoi” who had the magical banyan tree which can cure illness. Unfortunately, his wife accidentally urinated the sacred tree and the tree started floating up. In the effort to pull the tree back to the ground, Cuoi was dragged to the moon with the tree and got strapped there. Thus every year, on the day the moon is brightest and fullest, the children will parade on the streets holding the lanterns to light the way back to the earth from the moon for Cuoi.

Legend and origin of Mid-autumn festival in Vietnam

Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration

While the Chinese think of the mid-autumn festival as the occasion of reunion, the Vietnamese version emphasizes more on the children. Known as Children’s festival, Tet Trung Thu is featured with the exciting atmosphere, mooncakes, amazing lion dance in the drumbeats and numerous toys of various colors and shapes, typically the star-shaped lanterns and lion-headed masks.
Happy children in Mid-autumn festival in VietnamThe preparation for Tet Trung Thu begins far in advance. The exciting atmosphere covers the whole country, mooncakes stalls are full of people, markets are crammed with a wide range of children toys, both traditional ones like paper lanterns, masks as well as the modern ones. In the day of Mid-autumn festival, Vietnamese people will prepare the trays of 5 fruits of different colors: green, red, white and yellow as well as the mooncakes to place on the altar to worship their ancestors before feasting in the evening. As the moon illuminates on the sky, the children would flock together to parade along the streets with hands holding the toys or lanterns, play or sing happily while the adults can leisurely watch the moon as enjoying the mooncakes with a cup fragrant tea. These days, there are more entertaining events held for both children and adults on this occasion.
The mooncakes and Lion dances are important parts of every Mid-autumn festival. The two most common types of mooncakes in Vietnam are “Banh Deo” which is white in appearance, soft, and sticky and “Banh Nuong” which is baked cakes with a thick wheat crust. These cakes can be filled with a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. The lion dances in the drumbeats make a great contribution to the excitement throughout the event. The acrobatic team in the custom of a lion with a giant head and red sequined body dance on the streets, visit houses or stores to ask for permission to perform for them. In Vietnamese culture, the animal represents the luck and prosperity, and as the host consents, the lion dance is a blessing of fortune for the home. In return, they will give lucky money to the team to show their gratitude.

mooncakes - a must-have in Mid-Autumn festival

The Meaning of Vietnamese Fullmoon Festival

In Vietnam, the festival offers an opportunity for adults to show their love for the children and is a wonderful chance to tighten the family members relationship and express the gratitude towards ancestors, grandparents, parents, teachers, friends, relatives and other. It is a joyous occasion for both children and adults to enjoy themselves.
Besides, it is believed that people can predict the harvest and even the fate of the country by watching the moon in Tet Trung Thu: the yellow moonlight is the sign of good harvest in silkworm, natural disaster when moonlight is blue or green, and the prosperity is thriving in the country if the moon has the orange color.
Meaning of Vietnamese Fullmoon Festival

Places to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh city at the time of Mid-autumn festival, do not miss the Cho Lon for exciting events, Luong Nhu Hoc Street over crowed with numerous lanterns, masks and lion heads for grabbing awesome souvenirs. Join the locals, take in the exciting atmosphere, enjoy the city’s best lion dances and have great fun on this occasion.

Hoi An

The beauty of the city of lanterns on the eve of the Mid-autumn festival can not be described by words. The Ancient Town gains the fame for its Full moon festival celebration all year round. Each year there will be different exciting events held yet the spectacle is still the same.

Mid Autumn Festival in Hoi An Every street illuminates, children happily parade along the road, clapping hands and cheering because of the impressive acrobatic move in the lion dance performance. The fabulous sceneries as colored lanterns being floated into the river will be a memorable moment of a lifetime.
Hoi An - best place to explore in Mid Autumn Festival

Hanoi

In the capital city, make sure to pay a visit to Hang Ma and Luong Van Can Street, the busiest street in the Old Quarter in the time of preparation for the festival. Check 87 Ma May street for touring the traditional tube house and have a closer look at festival crafts created by the capable hands of local artisans. On the big night, the Youth Theatre located on Ngo Thi Nham Street and Children’s Palace on Ly Thai To Street house several interesting musical shows.