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Insights into Mid-Autumn Festival in the past and at present

07:36 | 28/09/2020

Mid-Autumn is an important festival in Vietnam and other East Asian countries as well. Given the speedy social and economic development, it’s evident that the festival has somehow changed over the years. Let’s travel to the past to see how Mid-Autumn was in the past and how it is at present.

hanois famous toy street sparkles as mid autumn festival draws near Hanoi's famous toy street sparkles as Mid-Autumn Festival draws near
precious photos of mid autumn festival in hanoi a century ago Precious photos of Mid-Autumn Festival in Hanoi a century ago
ideal destinations to celebrate mid autumn festival in saigon Ideal destinations to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Saigon
insights into mid autumn festival in the past and at present
(Photo courtesy of manhhai (flickr)/ Tuan Linh/ via VTV)

Carp lanterns

Carp lantern is among the traditional lanterns highly favored by Vietnamese children and upholds a lot of meanings. In Vietnamese culture, carps appear in the legend of “Carps turning into Dragon”, and is the means to ascend the Kitchen God to heaven at the end of every lunar year. The carp lanterns, therefore, represent the relentless efforts and determination to rise above life hurdles no matter what happens.

Nowadays, along with carp lanterns, one can easily come across lanterns in the shape of phoenix, unicorn, butterflies, etc.

insights into mid autumn festival in the past and at present
(Photo courtesy of manhhai (flickr)/ Tuan Linh/ via VTV)

Star-shaped lanterns

For almost every Vietnamese, their past memories of Mid-Autumn were filled with images of the star-shaped lantern. The colorful five-pointed star lanterns are simply made from bamboo sticks and eye-catching cellophane.

The star-shaped lantern resembles the yellow five-pointed star in the middle of the red background in Vietnam’s national flag.

Hence, holding the iconic star-shaped lanterns on hands during each Mid-Autumn Festival instills a sense of pride and patriotism in each Vietnamese children.

insights into mid autumn festival in the past and at present
(Photo courtesy of 1989, manhhai (flickr)/ VNA/ via VTV)

Shoulder pole in Mid-Autumn

Shoulder poles, for many Vietnamese nationals, are not solely the by-gone memories but also uphold unique cultural features. No one knows exactly when and where the shoulder poles originated, but it’s widely known that the shoulder poles have been going through all the ups and downs, standing by Hanoians throughout the development of the capital city.

Every year when Mid-Autumn draws near, many hawkers in the suburbs of Hanoi journey to the inner-city to sell kids toys. They are all blue-collar workers or veggies, and fruits sellers on normal days, but many would switch to trade on kids toys in every Mid-Autumn season.

Dozens of toys such as unicorn heads, masks, lanterns, to name a few, stored inside the shoulder poles would be taken along the many streets in Hanoi, giving the capital a festive vibe that can only be enjoyed once a year.

insights into mid autumn festival in the past and at present
(Photo courtesy of manhhai (flickr)/ VNA/ via VTV)

Unicorn dance

Unicorn is one of the four Holy Animals in Vietnamese culture. The unicorn is believed to be a gentle animal that never steps on grass or threatens live creatures. It is therefore represents a good omen. Unicorn dance in Mid-Autumn night is a wish for good things to knock on every family’s door.

The scene of long lines of children, adults parading the villages in the drumming sounds, while admiring the unicorn dance has long been a vivid memory in many people’s memories.

insights into mid autumn festival in the past and at present
(Photo courtesy of Hà Nội 1925 – 1935, manhhai (flickr)/ Tuan Linh/ via VTV)

Mid-Autumn is not the festival for children only

Mid-Autumn, among the many festivals and traditional holidays in Vietnam, has always won the hearts of many Vietnamese people regardless of how old they are.

Just the sight of the iconic lanterns, kids' toys, or Mooncakes would provoke past memories and put a smile on the face of a grown-up. Amidst the bustling of daily hustles, Mid-Autumn is the chance for all Vietnamese adults to free their minds for a moment and enjoy the precious childlike joy.

hanoi mural street highlighted with hanging lanterns in mid autumn fest Hanoi mural street highlighted with hanging lanterns in Mid-Autumn Fest

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lantern street in saigon jam packed with holiday goers Lantern street in Saigon jam-packed with holiday goers

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visual memories of mid autumn decades ago in rare color photos Visual memories of Mid-Autumn decades ago in rare color photos

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Jasmine Le