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Monday, September 12, 2011

Têt-Trung-Thu - The Moon Festival.

Today in Vietnam it's all about the moon!  How cool to have a festival dedicated to the moon I say! In Vietnam, Têt-Trung-Thu (tet-troong-thoo) or the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most popular family holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, during which, the moon appears larger than at any time of the year. The moon represents fullness and prosperity of life. 
Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. In a 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.  Like the Chinese, Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and serve mooncakes and other special treats under the silvery moon. A favorite folklore is about a carp that wanted to become a dragon. The carp worked and worked and eventually transformed itself into a dragon. This is the story behind the mythical symbol, Cá hóa Rông. Parents use this story to encourage their children to work hard so that they can become whatever they want to be.

During the Moon Festival, it is customary to give boxes of moon cakes (Banh Trung Thu) to family and special friends. The traditional moon cakes are usually very rich in taste. They have a bright yoke in the center to represent the moon. They are filled with lotus seeds, orange peel, ground beans.  Not a "cake" as we imagine.  A wholes days calories in one cake!

Traditionally, during the night of Moon Festival, children parade on the streets, singing with colorful lanterns in hands. There are several different shapes of lanterns including butterflies, fishes, and stars. There are also lanterns which spin around when a candle is placed inside (den Keo Quan), symbolizing the seasonal spinning of the earth around the sun.  Here are some pictures of the kids enjoying the festivities with the lanterns they made.

My shy and retiring wallflower.

New ao dai for Quiddy this year.  He is growing so fast the old one does not fit any more.

How did that get in there?

With his friend Swastik (!)

Christophers lovely teacher this year, Ms Becky.

Quiddy and his butterfly that he made and wrote on telling everyone all about himself.  "He is good at running and wants to get better at writing!"

The beautiful colours make this a very special day both for the kids and for the parents.  They all look lovely.

Not to forget Scarletts lovely teacher Ms Katy.

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