Vietnam is a tourist hub for culture tours in Asia thanks to its variety of traditional festivals and events. Together with the Lunar New Year and Vu Lan Festival (the full moon of the 7th lunar month), the Full-Moon Festival, which is better known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is a top significant Vietnamese festival. It is a joyful event with colorful lanterns, scrumptious moon cakes, and ecstatic vibes.

The origin of Mid-autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is celebrated in the night of the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, corresponding to mid-September to early October in the western calendar with a full moon at night. However, different to other countries where it’s time for family gathering (in China), Thanksgiving festival (in Korea), or Pray-moon festival (in Thailand), the Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam is mainly for children.

In Vietnam, the rice ripening comes into town in early Lunar August, and the parents are busy with harvesting so they do not have much time for their children; therefore, they make use of this occasion, which is initially to offer sacrifices to the Moon and the Deities, to play with their kids.

The 15th of the 8th lunar month is said to be the time of the year when the moon is roundest and brightest. In Oriental cultures, the full moon is the symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth. The locals offer sacrifices to the ancestor and the moon with the hope of a new bountiful harvest and a happy life.

How the Vietnamese celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival

Though this fascinating Vietnamese festival only takes place within one day, it’s a delightful time with several interesting activities to attend. Each family would prepare a tray of sacrifices to offer to the Moon, including Moon Cakes – a special cake in Vietnamese cuisine, fruits, joss papers, etc. After the incenses have burnt out, all the family will gather together to enjoy the food together.

When the moon is on, the streets are lightened by paper lanterns of different colors. Kids parade down the streets, wearing masks of different characters and holding lanterns in their hands. In the past, the star lantern is the only item that kids can have but nowadays, several interesting and beautifully-designed lanterns, from the paper lanterns using candles to modern stuff using battery, are full on streets. The night has become much more delightful with the lion dances, the sounds from the drums, the laughter of the kids, and their singing also. The whole town is hence in an exceptionally festive mood.

Moon Cake – an indispensable part of Mid-autumn Festival

A huge appeal of Mid-autumn Festival that makes Vietnamese people long to see this day to come is the Moon Cake. In Vietnam, there are two types of moon cakes: “banh nuong” – the toasted cake and “banh deo” – the sticky one. “Banh nuong” is the brown toasted flour cake filled with egg, fried onion, pork fat, mung beans, etc. “Banh deo” is the white sticky rice cake filled with a mixture of lotus seeds, mung beans, and pumpkin seeds. Moon cake is in round shape, which is believed to bring along luck, happiness, health, and prosperity.

Short as the festival might be, the preparation takes a lot of time. Taking Vietnam culture tours in this period, you could see the streets full of décor items for the Moon Festival. Not only kids but adults also feel elated at this event. To enable tourists to have more chances to attend such this event, many Vietnamese tour operators have celebrated this festival during their travel, and overnight Halong Bay Cruise is not an exception. Immersing yourself in the cheery vibe of this special Vietnamese festival is definitely a great way to get exposed to the culture of this S-shaped land.