The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival (Full Moon Festival or Tet Trung Thu Vietnam or Vietnamese Mooncake Festival) is an important and meaningful festival in Vietnam and is considered as the festival of children. On this day, families usually prepare a tray including cakes, candies, and fruits to worship the ancestors, then they gather to eat the cakes and admire the full moon. Children are so excited to be allowed to parade lanterns, eat moon cakes and fruits, watch lion dance, and have fun together.
So when is the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam held? It is held in the middle (the 15th day) of August in the lunar calendar every year (usually in between September and early October of the solar calendar).
- Mid - Autumn Festival in 2022 will take place on September 10
- Mid - Autumn Festival in 2023 will take place on September 29
I - History of the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Mooncake (Source: Abby Lee)
There are various legends about the origin of the festival embroidering mysterious stories, but according to historical records, it is derived from the notion of the emperor in the Ly Dynasty that this occasion is to show great gratitude to Dragon Deity, who brings about rich harvests, fine weather conditions, and happy life.
The Vietnamese Full Moon Festival plays such an extremely crucial role in the social and spiritual life of Vietnamese people that the image of moon sightings for the very first time in history was carved in the surface of Ngoc Lu bronze drum.
This festival is also a major holiday not only in Vietnam but in many Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore with different features.
II - Interesting activities in Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam
1 - Enjoying the full moon night
Join the Medium Festival (Source: Luxury-inside)
On this occasion, families have the opportunity to reunite, eat special foods, and enjoy the warm atmosphere of the full moon night. Depending on certain regions in Vietnam, the fruit tray is decorated differently including baked cakes, mooncakes, green skin pomelos, custard apples, red and pickled persimmons, pomegranates, guavas, oranges, purple sugarcanes, bananas, watermelons, pineapple, and grapefruit - an indispensable part because it is a symbol of goodness, fullness, and perfection.
2 - Lantern-parading - indispensable activity in Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
The custom of the lantern parade stemmed from the Song Dynasty in China. On the full moon day of August, the family hang various lanterns, drop carp-shaped lanterns into the pond and let their children and grandchildren parade the star-shaped lanterns under the moonlight.
Each region has its own way of holding lantern parades, but the procedure still has some features in common. Leading the parade is the biggest flamboyant star paper lantern or different shaped lanterns, followed by a team of lion dance and a large number of other smaller lanterns held by children. On the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, there are many lanterns made with a variety of shapes from flowers, fish, bears, stars,..., shining at night. The parade walks around the town or a certain area, singing loudly the songs of the Mid Autumn Festival under the bright moonlight, which creates an extraordinarily pleasant atmosphere.
3 - Lion dance in Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Lion dances (Source: Nhandan)
During the festival, the streets are filled with drums and lion dances. The lion dance is an age-old custom, appreciating art beauty but also the competition among lion dance teams. Dancers are able to combine dragons and lions to create the most appealing and eye-catching dance.
A person controlling the head of the lion instructs the whole team on the movements following drum beats. The lion represents a good wish, so the lion dance wishes good things to everyone. The lion dance is an essential part of the Mid-autumn Festival both in the city and in the countryside.
III - The best places during the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Places in Vietnam to enjoy the festival
Coming to Vietnam on the occasion of the Mid - Autumn Festival, tourists will be overwhelmed with the exciting, joyful atmosphere and the colorful markets of star-shaped lanterns.
1 - Hanoi
On the occasion of Tet Trung Thu Vietnam, Hanoi is extraordinarily bustling and brilliant, especially at night. Coming to Hanoi on this occasion, you should stop by Hang Ma street to go to the lantern market, stroll around Hoan Kiem lake enjoy the elaborate lion dance, or check-in at Phung Hung lantern street to take memorable photos. Hanoi also organizes the festival in the old town quarters with many attractive folk cultural activities, cultural performances, lion dance....which you can comfortably join and have fun with one another.
On the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival occasions, Hoan Kiem lake Pedestrian Street puts on the fine performances of lion dance and dragon dance, which is extremely enjoyable and vibrant. Many different familiar characters in fairy tales such as the Moon Lady (Chi Hang), Ong But (imaginary man who has magic and power to help good people),... together with modern characters in movies like Elsa Princess, Anna princess, Spiderman, Ironman, etc also appear in this special night to enjoy the mid-Autumn night with kids.
A “cuisine” in Hanoi Pedestrian Street is the energetic dance of Flashmob in the center of the street, which grabs the attention of numerous people, especially the young.
2 - Hoi An Ancient Town - the best place to experience the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam
Lantern festival in Hoi An (Source: Kazuo ota)
Hoi An Ancient Town, where time always stops (because it still retains the beauty of architecture and simple lifestyle after hundreds of years of history), certainly brings you a memorable experience about a full moon festival. Along the small streets, there are scenes decorated according to the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival theme that truly bring to the dearest images of Vietnamese traditional festivals such as starlight, banyan tree, full moon, Mid-Autumn tray...
You should not miss a variety of exciting activities in Hoi An such as throwing the lit candle paper lotus lanterns (Hoa dang) down the Thu Bon River from the boat, watching lion amusing dance, partaking in Vietnamese interesting folk games with locals, enjoying a piece of mooncake or simply strolling around the street and admiring the beauty of the ancient town decorated with colorful and splendid lanterns. In particular, you have a chance to enjoy a traditional performance genre of hát bội (in the South of Vietnam), which can be translated as “classical theater”, originated from the Tran dynasty (1226 - 1400).
3 - Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Time for a family reunion (Source: Afamily)
From the 10th day to the mid-day of August in the lunar month, many activities are held in Ho Chi Minh City such as "Full Moon Night" for children (music, drama, moon-enjoy ceremony), lion dance, singing, lantern making competition, releasing lanterns and flower lanterns on rivers and lakes. Luong Nhu Hoc lantern street, Dong Xuan market, Dam Sen cultural park, Nguyen Hue walking street,... are places tourists should not miss during the Vietnamese Moon Festival.
Unlike the conventional vibe of Hoi An Ancient Town, Ho Chi Minh city tends to be more modern and bustling during the Mid Autumn Festival with crowded streets, stalls, or bars where you can take a stroll with your loved ones, enjoying the glorious image of colorful lanterns or enjoying food and beverage in loud music. A highly recommended place that you can consider is Saigon Skydeck in the 49th story of the Bitexco building, where you can catch the panoramic view of the whole glorious city. There’s nothing better than gazing at the full moon at this height and sipping a cup of hot tea or coffee with your friends or family members.
The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival is not only a special and meaningful occasion for a family reunion but also represents Vietnam’s fine age-old tradition which is showcased in various facets from its origin, decoration to activities during this day. Therefore, it is advisable for any tourists coming to Vietnam to enjoy the festival so as to better understand the culture and tradition of Vietnam.