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Tết Trung Thu, “Full Moon, Full Fun” Festival

Once a year, Full Moon Festival, known as Tết “Trung Thu” (Mid-Autumn) or Têt “Trông Trăng” (Admiring the Moon), is the most exciting time for children in Vietnam. Not only they expect to receive nice gifts from their beloved parents, and family, but also they pray for a beautifully full moon, to absorb with a lantern parade and a joyful gathering with their family or friends to enjoy the moon cake, green tea and fruits (particularly in Hue, Thanh Trà is the not-to-be-missed fruit for Full Moon party). Young kids ask their parents to tell the legend of Little Cuội, the Jade Rabbit. Adults recall their childhood sweet memories. In such gentle family atmosphere, the traditions are connected and continued. For westerners who have not experienced Full Moon Festival in Huế, let us guide you through these nostalgic moments.

Unicorn dance in the village

It will be a great missing in our childhood if we failed to partake once in a lantern parade in Mid-Autumn Festival. In the vibrating sounds of drum, a crowd of children with the bamboo torch and the lantern in hands, one succeeds another to follow a troop of unicorn performance to all alleys, in the village or city. People open their heart and house to welcome them in, cheer them up during the dance. There is a big fat Ông Địa, a humorous and kind character to run around the house to bless and joke with each member with his fan and mask. The applause of audience, laughs and amazed eyes witness their good deeds. The troops are bringing joy and happiness, and luck to every family. In exchange, the hosts give a prize under the form “feeding the unicorn”. Sometime they hang it up on the higher storey, and the unicorn performer has to climb up, using a bamboo stick. An amazing scene to admire. The night moves on, the moonlight is shining over their heads, encouraging their tired legs to go further and further to bring more happiness to the neighborhoods.

Multiple colorful paper masks exposed on streets

Late in the evening, when the parade finishes, the children gather together, make the count of awarded money, and enjoy a big party or just enough to go to a sweet soup stand to celebrate. What is more important is they really enjoy the team play, connecting with each others in a wonderful social affair. Sometime the rain cannot stop them, as they have a real purpose behind the unicorn dance. They are performing to collect money to buy meaningful gifts for disadvantaged children, those who live in the centers for handicaps, on the sampans on the Perfume River for example.

Walking on the streets of Huế these days, your eyes will be pleased with vivid colors of lanterns in all shapes, unicorns and lion heads and moon cakes of course. Lantern parade and lion, unicorn dance have been the passion and the “Rite of passage” for many Vietnamese generations. Therefore, many families regardless being poor or rich still select the best lantern for their kids, to let them proudly join a parade. Groups of children or teenagers club together to buy the most impressive unicorn head and start practicing for a perfect performance during 3 nights of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Despite all modern, electric lantern, Đèn Ông Sao “Star lantern”, with candle inside is still the favorite

Under the threat of of modernity and social changes, virtual world and electronic games, Hue people continue to maintain the traditions. Mid-Autumn is not only the festival for children but the occasion for the adults to come back to childhood, for family gathering to share love and reinforce valuable traditions.

Let us show you how Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated in Hue through the images of the decorated streets. There is 1.5 year old little Tin, just recovered from a narrow escape illness, happily participates a lantern making class and 65 year old Mr.Trai, the prestigious artisan who spends his whole life to build of the branded Thu Đông unicorn, and lion heads with distinctive colors, decorative features.

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