A Blog to help all those moving to hectic Hanoi, wanting to learn about the culture in Vietnam or simply interested in the opinions of an adventurous expatriate teenager!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

"Tết Trung Thu"

The first time someone offered me a moon cake (bánh trung thu) was last year at morning break (and who can refuse food at morning break!) These circular cakes look like miniature moons and are stuffed with salty eggs, meats, lotus seeds and especially in Hanoi: green bean. In other parts of Vietnam there are variations of moon cakes such as in the south where they eat the extremely smelly Durian and eggs cakes and in the central regions where they enjoy green tea filled cakes.
Piles of treats stacked up for people to buy as gifts.

The moon festival is also called the children's festival and so parents present their children with gifts ranging from little toys, seasonal fruits, and slips of paper with sayings written on them ( my parents already to tell me to clean my room enough times during the year). It's almost like a Christmas dinner.

Lanterns light up the night sky in an array of vibrant tones, with the majority being red since this is the royal colour.  Close your eyes and you should be able to hear the distant beating of drums (or in my case the beating of drums is right next door so there's no need) from the musicians accompanying the dragon dancers.

A very bad shot of some dragon dancers.
The lanterns supposedly show Cui  the way back to earth after he was banished to the moon because his wife urinated on a sacred banyan tree. I'm not sure why he had to go to the moon and not his wife, but this is the legend behind the celebrations here in Vietnam.
There is actually another version of the story where the tree could cure any illness but his wife was jealous so poured dirty water on the tree which promptly began to fly away. Cui grabbed onto the tree and was taken to the moon.
Both these stories are about leading him home safely so that's the general idea.

Here is a picture of a sacred banyan tree and red lantern.
Here is a picture of some of the masks ( I personally find them a little horror movie-ish!

Look up at the moon tonight and see your future! (this may or may not be a very reliable horoscope however I'm inclined to include it since Vietnamese people obviously believe these things).

A golden moon- This year will be excellent for cultivating silkworm eggs
A moon with a blue or green tinge- Predicting disasters
An orange moon- National prosperity

Hopefully that's sorted out the course of your year for you!


Anonymous said...

Moon cakes taste yuk - forgot to mention that

Jemimah said...

Yeah I especially don't like the bean tasting ones.