The Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The Mid-Autumn Festival is named “Têt Trung Thu” in Vietnamese. It’s a traditional festival for the Vietnamese and also known as “Children’s Day”.

The Meaning of Mid-Autumn Day in Vietnam

The meaning of Mid-Autumn Day is rather different to that in China, though the Vietnamese also celebrate it by eating mooncakes. In Vietnam the Mid-Autumn Festival is the happiest day for children, during which parents buy their children various kinds of lanterns and snacks.

As for origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam, it’s totally different from the Chinese legend (Chang E Flying to the Moon)… Rice is harvested before the 15th of the eighth lunar month (mid-autumn) in Vietnam. Each household then offers sacrifices to the God of Earth. While occupied with harvesting parents have not so much time to take care of their children, therefore they make full use of the festival holiday to play with their children.

How Do Vietnamese Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival?

There are also various activities held to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam. The main activities include worshiping the God of Earth, and carrying carp-shaped lanterns.

Worshiping the God of Earth

Usually a worshiping platform is set up in the yard during Mid-Autumn night, on which mooncakes, fruits, and snacks are laid. Later family members sit together to eat the food while appreciating the moon.

The platform is not taken down until midnight, when the food is completely eaten up. Most families also set up a special platform for children, so that they can enjoy food anytime in the evening.

Carrying Carp-Shaped Lanterns
Carrying Carp-Shaped Lanterns is an important custom of the Mid-Autumn festival in Vietnam.

Carrying Carp-Shaped Lanterns

It’s also a tradition for the Vietnamese to light lanterns during the Mid-Autumn night. A legend went that a carp spirit once killed many during Mid-Autumn night, so that no household dared go outside that night.

Later, a wise man thought of an idea: he made a carp-shaped lantern with a stick in its belly, and then advised people to walk at night with a carp lantern in hand. The carp spirit was terrified by the light from the carp-shaped lanterns, and dared not go out to kill at Mid-Autumn since then.

Now children hold various kinds of paper lanterns and play in the moonlight, while eating mooncakes during the evening of Mid-Autumn Day.

Other Activities

In addition, a variety of interesting literary and art activities are also held throughout Vietnam during the Mid-Autumn Festival, as well as offering sacrifices to dragons, dragon boat races, lion dances, and lantern fairs, adding much luster to the festival.




Ben Thanh Market Celebrates its 100th birthday


Last Saturday, city authorities held a ceremony to mark Ben Thanh Market’s 100th birthday. Although it is one of the city’s oldest buildings, the market itself is significantly older, tracing its roots back to the early 19th century.

Before the arrival of the French, Saigon was a sleepy, river-side fishing town, centralized in the area around Nguyen Hue Street. It was here that traders from nearby hamlets would come by boat to sell their wares along the Ben Nghe (now Saigon) River. Around this time, Emperor Nguyen Anh was fighting a bloody war with the ousted Tay Son Dynasty for control of Gia Dinh (Saigon’s pre-colonial moniker).

The town changed hands multiple times until Nguyen captured it for good in 1789. To solidify control, Nguyen successfully petitioned French priest, Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, to help build the Citadel of Saigon. It is the combination of words Ben (harbor) and Thanh (town/citadel) that the market gets its name current name.

Originally built in the early 1800s along the Ben Nghe River, the market was extremely busy and hundreds of boats, bobbing around in the harbor, combined to create a floating market. Operations continued here through the Le Van Khoi Rebellion (1833 – 1835) but hostilities made the area unsafe, resulting in many fewer shoppers.

When the French began their occupation of Gia Dinh in 1859, the market was burned to the ground as was much of the city. After consolidating power, the French rebuilt the market on Nguyen Hue Street which, at the time, was a canal. This location, surrounded by canals on three sides, allowed small boats to easily pull up and drop off their loads. Unfortunately, the materials used to build the market were quite flammable and it burned down in 1870. Rebuilt with better materials, the market endured the French decision to fill in the surrounding canals (which became the major streets near the water) but eventually fell into a state of disrepair and was torn down in 1911.

The French administration decided to build a new, sprawling market in the pond next to the newly constructed My Tho train station where it continues to stand today (the train station was moved to District 3 around 1975). The new market, built by French contractor, Brossard et Maupin, was completed in 1914. More than 100,000 people came out to enjoy the celebratory parade and fireworks. The market operated continuously until 1985 when it underwent a major renovation.

While the market itself hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, the surrounding environment has. Some of the more significant changes include the relocation of the train station, dismantling of the street car system and the removal of the pedestrian walkway.

The market, now full to the brim with tourists, has become arguably the city’s most iconic building.