Time: 15th day of the eighth lunar month.
Place: Every family.
Objects of worship: The Moon.
Characteristics: Feast of banh nuong and banh deo (pastries), procession of lights, lion dance.
Tet Trung Thu is formerly autumn festival, and then becomes tet trong trang (moon looking festival) of children. On this day, the moon is the brightest and roundest in the year, cool weather. The festival involves the custom of trong trang, procession of lights (parading with lanterns shaped as moon and stars), lion dance and eating pasties and fruits.
Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. In Vietnamese folklore, parents were working so hard to prepare for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid-Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children.
Appropriately, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Children’s Festival. In the United States, this tradition continues in many Vietnamese-American communities.
Trung-Thu activities are often centered on children and education. Parents buy lanterns for their children so that they can participate in a candlelit lantern procession at dawn.
Lanterns represent brightness while the procession symbolizes success in school. Vietnamese markets sell a variety of lanterns, but the most popular children’s lantern is the star lantern.
There’s also a story about how the Moon Lady ascended to the moon. A man named Chu Coi found a lucky tree that had special healing powers. Because this tree was sacred, people were forbidden to urinate at the foot of this tree.
Unfortunately, Chu Coi’s wife, Chi Hang forgot the rule and urinated on the tree. One day, while she was sitting on the tree’s branch, the tree started to grow and grow. Eventually, it reached the moon, since then, Chi Hang lived on the moon for the rest of her life as a punishment for desecrating the sacred tree.