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One of Vietnam's two most important festivals, Tet Trung Thu is a wonderful, ancient festival especially important to families, as it revolves around children. Dating back as far as 15,000-20,000 years ago in Southeast Asia, and is traditionally held on the 15th day of the year's eighth Lunar Month. This year, the date of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is September 2, the same day as the full moon.
It is said that originally, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. The harvest was done by September, (August in the Lunar calendar) and the parents were anxious to spend time with their children and do something special with them, as well as celebrate the harvest, after spending much time working hard and away from the family. It was held under the full moon, which represents fullness and prosperity of life.
Tet Trung Thu is very much like a combination of our Halloween and Thanksgiving. Children parade on the streets, while singing and carrying colorful lanterns of different sizes. Some of the popular shapes include fishes, stars, butterflies and a lantern that spins when a candle is inserted, representing the earth circling the sun.
Dances are also traditional, and include the dragon dance and the flower dance.
It is customary to give Banh Trung Thu, boxes of moon cakes, which are traditionally very rich in taste. The cakes are filled with lotus seeds, ground beans and orange peels and have a bright yoke in the center to represent the moon.
Today, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, as well as encouraging affection for children, promotes education, poetry, dance and arts and crafts.
Many Vietnamese communities in the USA hold Mid-Autumn Moon Festivals, including Washington DC and San Jose. For families that don't live in an area with an organized Tet Trung Thu Festival, have your own! It is a wonderful opportunity to share and learn about your child's culture, and a great opportunity for family fun too!
To help children get ready for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, parents can help children make their lanterns and costumes for the lantern procession and discuss the history and culture of Vietnam.
Showing our love for our children and teaching of Vietnam's love for their children is a wonderful reason to celebrate!