Fireworks in the Lion Dance 1

Tết Trung Thu – Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival, known as “Tết Trung Thu”, is one of the most celebrated festivals in Vietnam. The origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival can be traced 3,000 years back to ancient China. Tết Trung Thu is one example of Chinese culture that permeated in Vietnam over time. Mid-Autumn is also celebrated in China and Taiwan and among communities living overseas. There is also variation of the celebration in Japan and Korea, 

tet trung thu performance
A group create a small performance at Phố Lồng Đèn.

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. While Vietnam operates on two different climates and the South doesn’t technically have an autumn, the festival is celebrated as an important milestone of each year.

The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is considered a time for children and includes many opportunities and activities for fun and enjoyment. One of the most common traditions is the making and parading of colourful lanterns. Lantern processions are a common sight in many neighbourhoods during the evenings leading up to the festival. Children and relatives craft lanterns in various shapes and sizes. Some lanterns are often designed to look like animals (rabbits, fish and dragons), stars and various shapes. Many neighbourhoods will also decorate their streets with lanterns over this period. The Mid-Autumn Festival is also a popular time for gifting toys to children. Hence why a lot of shops will stock a variety of toys over this period.

Butterfly lantern
A butterfly lantern.

One common mid-autumn sight during this period is the performance of the lion dance. It is common for young children to organise a troupe to dress as lions and enter the houses of their neighbourhood, bringing good luck and fortune to neighbours who gift the children money in return. There are also amateur and semi-professional troupes who are hired for private performances or in public. Performances are athletic, acrobatic and at times dangerous. In smaller cities, performances can be held on busy streets and interrupt the flow of traffic. Some locations hold tournaments and invite teams from other countries to participate in lion dances. Lion dances are often accompanied by a frenetic rhythm made up of percussion instruments.

dragon dance
A community-based variety performance at a locale in district 11.

As a harvest festival, food plays an important part in the Mid-Autumn festival but the most symbolic food for the occasion is the Mooncake, a dense pastry pie with a variety of sweet and savoury fillings on offer. They are shared as gifts between loved ones and colleagues. Atop of the mooncake is often a printed pattern, festive symbols or auspicious words. Mooncakes are sold at different price points and often contain fillings of peanuts, sesame seeds, sausage, red bean, pumpkin, and fruits. The most common filling in the Moon cake is the salted egg yolk in the centre.

One of many game stands at Tet trung Thu.

The Mid-Autumn Festival in modern Vietnam is often an opportunity to enjoy the events happening around the city. In Ho Chi Minh City, many people visit district 5 with friends and family to take photos and enjoy some snacks. Bigger businesses and shopping centres in district 1 will decorate their shop fronts and stores to reflect the Mid-Autumn Festivals. While there is a deeper historical and religious associated with Mid-Autumn Festival, these are elements that are seldom reflected on amongst the general population.


People taking photos during Tet Trung Thu


Shopping Mall in District 1
Saigon Centre’s entrance was decorated for Mid-Autumn Festival and sponsored by ABC Bakery.
Mooncake stand in a shopping centre
Some stands inside Saigon Centre selling luxury Mooncakes.
Entrance to Phố Lồng Đèn
Entrance to Phố Lồng Đèn during Tết Trung Thu
Street corner during tet trung thu in district 5
Popular corner for ice cream in Phố Lồng Đèn.
Mid Autumn Festival Lanterns.
People posing with lanterns during the Mid Autumn Festival in District 5 of Hồ Chí Minh City.
Snacks at the Mid Autumn Festival.
Snacks for sale during the Mid-Autumn Festival in District 5 of Hồ Chí Minh City.

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