Differences between Chinese and Vietnamese Mid Autumn Festival
Mid Autumn Festival (or Full Moon Festival) in Vietnam is not a public holiday. However, this is a big festival that the locals have so many interesting activities to celebrate it. Some say its origin is from China. But the Vietnamese celebrate it for a different legend.
The legend of Mid Autumn in Vietnam
The most popular legend of Mid Autumn in China is a story about Hou Yi and Chang E. Meanwhile, the legend in Vietnam is a different story. The Full Moon Festival is for Chi Hang and Chu Cuoi.
Chi Hang is the one who lives in the Moon. She manages the circle of it. Her story is also the same as the story of Chang E. However after all things happened, she lives happily with the rapid on the Moon.
The different of the legend in Vietnam is the appearance of Chu Cuoi. He is a woodcutter who usually tells people lies. One day when he went to the forest to cut wood, he saw a strange banyan tree whose leaves can be used as the medicine. He brought the tree back home and grow it in the yard and used the leaves to help people in the village.
Chu Cuoi lived a life as other people, grew up and got married. He told his wife to take care of that tree carefully since it could help to pure human diseases. However, his wife was absent-minded. She did not only forget to take care of the strange bayan tree but also went pee on its root. When Chu Cuoi came back home after going out to cut wood, he saw the tree was so angry and flying to the sky. He tried to hold the tree back but it still flew up to the Moon and also carried Chu Cuoi with. From then, Chu Cuoi has lived on the Moon and be a good friend with Chi Hang.
When is the festival happen?
Mid Autumn has another name is Full Moon Festival. The reason is that it happens when the Moon gets the brightest time in a year. It is in August as Lunar Calendar. Regarding to the time, it is exactly same as the festival in China. In the international calendar, it usually falls in the first half of September.
What do Vietnamese do in the Mid Autumn?
Due to the reason that Mid Autumn is a traditional festival in Vietnam, there are so many interesting activities that reflect the true culture of the locals.
Mid Autumn Feast
Away from the legend of the Mid Autumn Festival, the history recorded that this festival started in the time of the Ly Dynasty. Ly King celebrated the festival as a way to send his thanks to the Dragon God who brought a successful harvest to the country. On this occasion, he prepared a special feast to sacrifice God. From then, the Vietnamese people always prepare hearty feasts on the festival.
Normally, the feast has three parts. The first one is the fruits. There are five different kinds of fruit that a Full Moon feast contains. There is no rule of the kinds of fruit. Normally, it depends on different areas that the locals grow different fruits. They will use their own products for the feast.
Another part of the feast is Full Moon cakes. In the past, they are just the cakes that the locals make. Nowadays, people use the Full Moon cake for this occasion only. There is a diversity in the cake which is to satisfy the demands of consumers.
And the last part which cannot be miss in every the Mid Autumn Festival is the lanterns. The traditional lantern for the Full Moon Festival is the one that children usually hang on their hands to sing traditional songs. As a tradition, the most popular lantern for this festival is the star-shaped one. However, since the development of the society, there are different designs appear to meet the demands of consumers. Nowadays, people also have another type of lantern. It is the floating one that is afloat on the river.
It is the same as the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, the Vietnamese have the Lion Dance. In a team of Lion dance, there are three departments. The first one is the drum team. They use the drum, cymbals, and gong sometimes. The second one is the Earth God. According to the local belief, Lion is an evil animal that usually destroys the local harvest. Thus, Earth God comes to control the Lion and makes it become a helpful animal to help people. Hence, in the Lion Dance, Earth God usually goes in front of the Lion to guide it the way. And last of not least, the dance team. Depending on the scale of the team, there are different numbers of lions. Normally, there are two dancers in a lion. One holds the head and one keeps the tail.
Lion Dance is the most famous outdoor activity. As a local opinion, Lion Dance drives bad things away and brings luck to life.
Even though Mid Autumn is not a public holiday in Vietnam, it is one of the big traditional festivals. There are so many similar things between a Chinese and Vietnamese Full Moon Festival. However, there are still differences that people try to make it suitable for the local culture so that the festival reflects the local lifestyle better.