Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival)
Time: 15th day of the eighth month in the Lunar calendar annually
Place: Every family
Objects of worship: The Moon
Characteristics: Feast of banh nuong and banh deo (pastries), procession of lights, lion dance…
The Mid-Autumn festival is named “Tet Trung Thu” in Vietnamese. It is also known as Children’s Festival because of the event’s emphasis on children. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, during a full moon, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar, close to the autumnal equinox.
From the beginning of the month, people have prepared for the festival with colorful and different shape lanterns. Moon cakes or Mid-Autumn cakes are also prepared along with the various toys for children. There are many traditional toys among the most typical ones such as star-shaped lanterns, paper doctor doll, animal-shapped lanterns. Children carry the lanterns walking from streets to streets in the funny & exciting sounds of their singing & drumming on the nights of the festival. On the right night of the festival, there are groups of lion dances with crowded drums and cymbals. Dances are performed by both non-professional children’s groups and trained professional groups. These lion dance groups perform on the streets, going to houses asking for permission to perform for them. If the host consents, the “lion” will come in and start dancing as a blessing of luck and fortune for the home. In return, the host gives luck money to show their gratitude.
In this occasion, to enjoy the beauty of the moon, there are many activities for children & even adults.
Competition of feast holding and lantern making
On the day of the festival, the competitors prepare feasts with moon-shapped cakes; fruits and decorate the feats with lanterns and flowers. The competitors for feast holding are mainly ladies while the kids enter the lantern making competitions. Many families hold feasts at home for their own children and there is often a paper doctor doll placed in the highest location of the feast trays with cakes; fruits and flowers surrounding. Late in the night, after enjoying the festival with jubilant dancing & singing, the kids share all of the things and finish the night.
Folk songs singing contest (Hat trong quan)
There is a custom of singing contest in the North of Vietnam. Two groups of women and men sing and compete with each other. They sing while playing an instrument like a drum with a string above the surface of it to create the rhythm of the song. The songs may be already written or created promptly by the competitors. The competition would be happy most of the time, but it also could aggressive when there is a hard riddle.
Lion dance is a form of traditional dance, in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume. And this form of dance can be easily found on the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival in the North of Vietnam. It is performed accompanied by the music of beating of drums, cymbals, and gongs instruments synchronising to the lion dance movements and actions. There are two performers for the dance, one at the head of the lion; one at the tail of the lion. The head of the lion is made of papier-mache. The nearly constant twinkle and movement of the lion’s eyelids as well as the movement of the head and mouth are supposed to enhance the lion’s vitality and longevity, while the tail of the lion sweeps away bad fortune and unpleasant things. Many adults & kids follow the dance. In these days, some houses hang a gift or lucky money high outside, the dancing lions when passing by the houses will try to catch these gifts as catching the luckiness.
Itinerary (15th day of the eighth month in the Lunar calendar)
5:00: Pick up at the at the hotel then transfer to Hang Ma;
5:00-6:00: Enjoy in jubilant atmosphere with local person and buy traditional lanterns;
6:00-6:30: Sip street coffee or at sit in coffee shops viewing Hoan Kiem lake;
6:30-7:30: Follow lion dance – a particularly dance during Mid – Autumn Festival;
8:00: Finish tour at your hotel.
*** Hang Ma information
Hang Ma Street has been one of Hanoi’s typically frenetic commercial areas since the medieval times. On the Mid-Autumn Festival occasions of traditional festivities, the street becomes filled with sounds, colors and light, bearing the imprints of the spiritual life of Orientals. The main toys for kids at the Mid-Autumn Festival are lanterns, with all sizes, materials and colors. Besides traditional lanterns, shops also offer lanterns featuring favorite cartoon characters, like Poroko penguin; Tom and Jerry, etc. These products are priced from VND25,000 to VND50,000.
Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyên Đán)
Time: From the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day.
Objects of worship: Grandparents and Ancestors
Participator: The biggest national festival that attracts to people through the country
– Nice & new clothes, or traditional costumes
– Ritual of ancestral worshipping and a rite to see Tao Quan (Kitchen God) off
– Best wishes for a prosperous New Year and family gathering
Tết Nguyên Đán, more commonly known as Tet in Vietnam, is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It is the most important and the biggest holiday in Vietnam. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tet by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tet, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year (to bring the happiness & luckiness to the lords), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop…
Tet is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tet, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tet to be the first day of spring and the festivals held this time are often called Hoi xuan (Festivals for Spring)
Itinerary (Only applied from 25th to 29th of the twelfth lunar month)
8:00: Pick up at the hotel;
8:30: Transfer to traditional family of Hanoian and learn how to make square cake (Banh Chung);
8:30-10:30: Make a Banh Chung square cake at family. After finishing doing the cakes, start to boil them for some hours. Enjoy the time to continue for other activities;
10:40: Go to local market to buy five kinds of fruit and essential things for Tet and learn about worshipping culture during the Holiday of the Vietnamese;
11:30-13:00: Prepare a warm & traditional meal with local persons then enjoy together;
15:00: Visit flower market and you will feel amazing because of special flowers that local person buys to decorate in house such as Peach blossom, apricot blossom, mandarin orange tree…;
16:00: Come back local family and take your square cake that you made in the morning, it is well done now;
17:00: Finish tour at your hotel.
Square cake information
Banh Chung (square cake) is a traditional and irreplaceable Vietnamese rice cake which is made from glutinous rice, mung bean, pork and other ingredients. Its origin is told by the legend of Lang Lieu, a prince of the sixth Hung King, who became Hung King’s successor thank to his creation of Banh Chung (square shape) & Banh Day (round shape), which symbolized respectively the Earth and the Sky. Considered an essential element of the family altar on the occasion of Tet and Hung King’s anniversary (taken on 10th March Lunar Calendar), the making and eating Banh Chung during two holidays is a well-preserved tradition of Vietnamese people.
The legend of “Banh Chung”
According to the book Extraordinary Stories of Linh Nam published in 1695, the creation of Banh Chung was credited to Lang Lieu, a prince of the sixth Hung King. It was said that after the victory against the army of Shang Dynasty, in choosing a successor among his sons, the King decided to carry out a competition in which each prince brought a delicacy representing the sincerity for the ancestors on the occasion of the Tet, whoever could introduce the most delicious dish for the altar would become the next ruler of the country. While other princes tried to find the rare and delicious foods from forest and sea, the eighteenth prince Lang Lieu, who was the poorest son of Hung King, could not afford those luxury dishes and had to content with the everyday ingredients such as rice or pork. Finally, he created one cake in the square form of earth called Banh Chung and one in the round form of sky called Banh Day from these simple ingredients. In tasting the dishes offered by his son, the King found Banh Chung and Banh Day not only delicious but also a fine representation of the respect for ancestors. Therefore he decided to cede the throne to Lang Lieu and Banh Chung, Banh Day became traditional foods during the Tet since then.
Considered an indispensable dish of the Tet, Banh Chung is placed in the family altars in order to honor the ancestors and pray them to support the family in the New Year.
Beside above-mentioned holidays, Banh Chung is also tasted all year round as a delicacy of Vietnamese cuisine and one of the national dishes of Vietnam besides Nem Ran (spring roll) and Pho (rice noodle).
Hung Kings’ Temple Festival
Time: From 8th day to 11th day of the third month in the lunar calendar annually / The main festival day: the 10th day of the month.
Place: At the Hung Kings’ Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phong Chau District, Phu Tho province, 85 kilometers northwest of Hanoi.
Hung Kings’ Temple Festival (in Vietnamese: Lễ hội đền Hùng or Giỗ tổ Hùng Vương) is held on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month. However, the festival is taken place from some weeks before. It is not the actual death anniversary of the Hung Kings as meaning of “Giỗ tổ Hùng Vương” in Vietnamese because it is not the day Hung Kings died. This day is for commemorating the Hung Kings who had the merit of founding the country of Vietnam.
Hung Kings’ Temple Festival is one of the most important and sacred festivals of Vietnamese people and is deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of from which province they come.
Diverse activities will take place, such as a palanquin procession from surrounding villages to the Hung King Temple, lion dances, beating bronze drums, and cooking Banh Chung (square sticky rice cake) and Banh Day (round sticky rice cake).
Hung King Temple is a complex of majestic buildings built in the 15th century to be dedicated to Hung Emperors. Located on Nghia Linh Mountain, Hy Lang commune, Phong Chau district, Phu Tho province, it is also the place where the Hung King Temple Festival is held every year, reminding Vietnamese people of their origins of culture.
7:00: Pick up at hotel then transfer to Hung Temple;
9:00: Arrive at the Temple and enjoy some activities as follows:
Visiting some main site in Hung Kings’ Temple complex: Den Thuong ( Upper Temple) / Hung Vuong Museum / Imperial Tomb Hung Vuong
Participating in local and cultural activities: Procession marches / Xoan Song performance (provincial traditional singing) / Other activities like cross-bow shooting, rice cooking, swinging contests, cock fighting, and dragon dancing…
12:00: Have lunch at local restaurant;
13:30: Transfer back Hanoi;
15:00: Finish tour at your hotel.