Tet Trung Thu is one of the most important festival in Asian culture in general and in Vietnam in particular. It’s also called reunion festival or Children’s festival in Vietnam and combines many rituals, customs and legends.
The festival is celebrated at the 15th day of the 8th month in Lunar calendar, the day that the moon is the most beautiful in a single year. In the day, families will hold a small party with the hightlight is Moon cake, the indispensable dish in the table for Full Moon. Children will be given a tables full of sweets and fruits for “Pha Co”, literally means ruin the table of food but actually, it’s a pretty tradition. In the past, the country was very poor so children hardly had so much sweets, only at Full Moon day, a group of families living near one another would share the cost to buy their kids a table of sweets and fruits so they have a small party. The food was well decorated at first, then when adults allowed, the kids would eat them together, that’s called Pha co.
Besides, there are many stories and folklore weave their way through Vietnam’s Full Moon day. One of the best-loved legends relates to a man named Cuoi. The story said that Cuoi was lucky to find a magical sacred banyan tree in forest that could cure even the dead. Thanks to its, he cured many people in the village and successfully cured the daughter of a rich man in his village and he approved 2 young people’s marriage. However, after reviving, the lady memory went bad. One day Cuoi was away from home, his wife forgot that the tree could only be water with clean water and used urine instead. The tree felt offended and flew into the sky, right at that time Cuoi reached home and immediatedly hang on to the tree in a hope that he could drag it back to the earth. Unfortunately, the tree dragged him to the sky and kept flying until it reach the moon and he was eventually stuck there. Since this incidence, Vietnamese people claim they see a man resting under the tree in a full moon. Nowadays in Vietnam Tet Trung Thu commonly known as the Children’s Festival sees, on the night of its full moon, children parading with lanterns to help Cuoi find a lighted path back to his home.
Coming to the famous street of Hang Ma in Hanoi, the place for selling paper version of most necessary items in daily life to send to the dead people in “the other world” by burning them you’ll find the Full moon festival is quite colorful.
Around 1 week before the festival, the street is usually full of people, most of them are the young hanging out for shopping little lovely things sold here and taking colorful pictures and children with their parents to shop for toys and lanterns. The entire street is full or colorful light from lanterns hanging everywhere in many shapes: stars, fish, lotus flowers, mini pagodas, rabbits (the latter represents the Jade Rabbit who also lives in the moon).
Under the moonlight, children, hiding behind papier-mache masks, parade the streets, singing songs while carrying brightly lit lanterns. Lion and Unicorn dancers perform; mooncakes are eagerly devoured while other traditional foods are enjoyed. Every area in Vietnam comes alive at this time of year but Hang Ma Street remains the brightest star, leading the colorful traditions and festivities year after year.
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