THE FULL MOON FESTIVAL

Into my weaboo side 7

Even though that it has long passed by, I still haven’t found a chance to write about it, the full moon festival, or the mid-autumn festival. Taking place in August 15th in the lunar calendar, it’s one of many traditional festivals of my country and also of China.

For me, ever since I hit the age that wasn’t considered child-like anymore, the festival had become something I found tedious, or even boring, because I didn’t have a change to go and play around the neighborhood anymore. But then, in the evening of this year’s festival, when I came across the television while it was showing news about the festival around my country, I realized that I had missed so many spiritual beauties which the full moon festival gave. Even the simplest thing held so many meaning that I failed to see through…

Moon cake

In my country, people celebrate the mid-autumn festival usually with moon cakes and lanterns. A traditional moon cake is usually a round baked cake and has green been filling and salted egg in the middle, but now it has so many more flavours. The other type of moon cake is make with cooked glutinous rice flour that doesn’t require baking. Moon cake is quite sweet but the flavour is balanced by the salted egg. People sometimes eat the cake with a cup of hot tea while gazing at the beautiful full moon on the sky…

Lantern

And of course, mid-autumn festival wouldn’t be completed without lantern. There are a lot of different kind of lanterns, but I will show you two traditional ones which have been the symbols for the full moon festival in my country.

First is Đèn kéo quân ( 走馬燈 in Chinese ). It’s originally from China with the purpose of teaching children history and chauvinism. It’s usually made of a type of cellophane that wrapped around the base and used a screen, inside are images attached to a pivot. With special technique, when the lantern is finished, the images will spin around non-stop inside the lantern and the light of the candle in the middle will reflect the shadow of these images, as if it is telling a story. Nowadays in Việt Nam, Đèn kéo quân isn’t very popular anymore, which is a shame. But in this small corner of the country, namely Cao Viên, there are some people who still keep up with the tradition and make these lanterns for children around the neighbor, and here is one of them, Mr.Nguyễn Văn Quyền.

In addition, children in my country also love to have a star lantern ( Đèn ông sao ) in this festival. Star lantern is made by using thin bamboo stick as the base and usually red/green colored cellophane to the lantern.

Star lantern had been the iconic full moon festival symbol of children for years. In the evening of the festival, children with their parents all come to the street with their own lanterns and walk around the neighbor, having fun with one another. This is called “rước đèn”, and it’s irreplaceable in this full moon night. Star lantern exists in everyone’s childhood, and I guess no one, no matter their ages, could forget this simple but meaningful song which is sung in every mid autumn festival :

“Đây đèn ông sao sao năm cánh tươi vàng.
Ánh sao sáng ngời chiếu miền non ngàn.
Đây cầm đèn sao sao chiếu vô nam.
Đây ánh hoà bình đuổi xua loài xâm lăng !”

( Chiếc đèn ông sao _ Phạm Tuyên )

Rough translation :

“The five pointed star lantern with shimmering light
Star light shines through the vast mountains and plains
Holding the lantern, the light reaches the Southern land
With the pacific light, it banishes the invaders !” 

( The star lantern _ Phạm Tuyên )

But not only that, to the Northern part of the country, there is a old town named Hội An which holds a lantern display in every full moon festival. Thousands of lanterns are lit up on the streets creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere to cerebrate this special evening that one would never forget…

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