Every year, tens of millions of Vietnamese people celebrate the country’s second biggest festival – Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival. Mooncakes and lanterns are at any corner of Vietnam. It plays an important part in the cultural life of Vietnamese people. This is an ultimate guide to Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes, lanterns, legends about the festival, places to celebrate the festival like locals, etc.
1. When did Vietnamese people start celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival
It has been researched that the Mid-Autumn Festival has existed in the world for over 2,000 years. It also has been written that the festival was first held under the rules of the Ly Dynasty at Thang Long Citadel. It was a chance for the Kings to show gratitude for Dragon God who brought rain to the earth, harvest success and fulfilling life. Many people think that this festival originated in China. The followings are the most popular legends and folklores about the Mid-Autumn Festival.
2. Legends and folklores about Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam
There are countless myths, legends and folklores about the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival and the markings of the moon. When talking about Mid-Autumn Festival and the moon, they refer to Hou Yi (Hâu Nghệ), Chang’e (Hằng Nga), moon rabbit, Cuoi and banyan tree. The followings are the most popular legends and folktales related to the moon and the 15th day of the 8th lunar month in Vietnam.
Legend 1 – Emperor Ruizong went to the moon
It was written in ancient books that Full-moon festival originated in China under the rule of Emperor Ruizong of the Tang Dynasty (684 – 690). On the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, when the emperor and the mandarins were watching the moon, the emperor wished to be on the moon. Dieu Phap Thien magician made his wish come true. The emperor joined a luxury party, watched hundreds of fairies in colorful thin dress dancing with white long silk ribbon. Since then, the emperor ordered to celebrate a festival on every 15th Autumn of the lunar calendar. On that day, they dance and sing, eat moon cakes, play with lanterns, etc.
Legend 2 – Hou Yi and Chang’e
Hou Yi (Hâu Nghệ) and Chang’e were husband and wife. Hou Yi was an immortal and an excellent archer, Chang’e was a graceful fairy who served Queen Mother of the West (Tây Vương Mẫu).
They were accused and sent to the earth. At that time, there were totally 10 suns, each of them per day. One day, 10 suns rose at the same time and they were going to burn most creatures on the earth. Emperor Yao (2356 – 2255 BC) ordered Hou Yi to shoot 9 suns to save the earth. The emperor rewarded and presented Hou Yi a twinkle pill. The emperor and told Hou Yi to eat a pill after training and eating vegetables for one year.
Chang’e found and ate the pill although Hou Yi hid it on the roof. She started flying to the moon. When she arrived on the moon, the pearl came out from her mouth. So that she must live on the moon forever. Hou Yi built a sandcastle on the sun. Once a year, they have a chance to meet each other. On the 15th day of the 8th lunar calendar, the sun and the moon are the brightest and fullest, Hou Yi and Chang’e have a chance to meet each other, happily talk to each other about everything.
Legend 3 – Hou Yi and Chang’e
Hou Yi (Hâu Nghệ in Vietnamese) and Chang’e (Hằng Nga in Vietnamese) were husband and wife. Hou Yi was an immortal and an excellent archer. The 10th son of the Emperor of the Heaven (Ngọc Hoàng) turned into 10 suns which burned fiercely in the sky. A large number of people died of thirst and hunger. The Emperor sent Hou Yi to the earth to help. He shot down 9 suns with his red bow and white arrows. It became cooler and humanity was saved.
One day, Hou Yi met a beautiful girl named Chang’e, they fell in love and got married. Hou Yi went to meet Western Queen Mother and was rewarded with an elixir which can help the couple to enjoy eternal life. Hou Yi and Chang’e decided to drink the elixir on the 15th day of the 15th lunar month. Unfortunately, a bad man named Feng Meng heard about their plan, killed Hou Yi on his way going home from the forest, came to the house in order to steel the elixir from Chang’e. He did not succeed and Chang’e decided to drink the elixir herself. She was lifted towards heaven and decided to live on the moon because it is the nearest place to the earth. Having a peaceful immortal life, she never fogets the deep love for Hou Yi. On the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, the bright moon shows the love of this graceful fairy to her husband.
Legend 4 – Emperor Ming of Tang and Yang Guifei
During the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Ming of Tang spent his time drinking and feasting, thereby neglected his duties as emperor. Yang Guifei was his beloved consort and known as “the beauty who brought down a dynasty”. The troops blame the Yang family for Emperor Ming’s troubles and forced him to have his beloved concubine strangled with white silk Gao Lishi – a eunuch official in a temple under a pear tree. Emperor Ming missed his concubine so much after her death. Fairies let him to fly to the sky, stroll into Ngu Uyen gardens, and meet Yang Guifei on the 15th day of the lunar 8th month every year. He set the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival on that day and Chinese people have held the festival since then.
Cuoi and the banyan on the moon
A Vietnamese legend about the image of Cuoi and the banyan (Chú Cuội và cây đa) on the moon has been told every Vietnamese child by their parents, granparents, sisters or teachers. The legend says there was a hardworking man named Cuoi (Cuội). He earned his living by gathering firewood in the forest. He accidentally killed baby tigers and hid at the top of a tree when the mother tiger came back. He saw the mother tigers saved its babies using a few leaves of a nearby banyan tree.
Cuoi decided to dig the whole tree and brought it home. On the way, he saved a dead old man. The old man told Cuoi to take care of this magical tree as well as possible and not to pour dirty water on it. So that Cuoi always water the banyan tree with clean water from the well in the garden.
Cuoi saved a dead dog which became his pet. He also saved the landowner’s daughter and she became his wife. Some bad men who were jealous with Cuoi killed the wife, threw her organs away. Cuoi replaced her lost organs with the organs of the dog and brought her back to life.
However, the wife suffered from short-term memory. She poured dirty water onto the tree roots. The tree started flying to the sky when Cuoi came back home. He tried to pull it down but it brought him to the moon. It has been said that there is the image of Cuoi sitting at the root of the tree in the curve the moon.
Folklore about Moon rabbit
There were a couple of rabbits who had trained themselves for thousands of years, reached the peak of the way and became fairy rabbits. They had 4 lovely white baby rabbits. The rabbit family felt sorry for Chang’e who was lonely on the moon. They decided to send one of the baby rabbits to the moon so that it could make Chang’e happy although all the rabbits were so sad about that. They had cried so much before the youngest baby rabbit came to the moon.
3. Meaning of Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th August of the lunar calendar. This perhaps is the nicest weather day of the whole year when it is cool, the moon is the brightest and the blue is the clearest. People usually feel great on the day thanks to the weather. In the past, Vietnamese people live in rural areas and work mainly in farming. The festival corresponds with the end of a crop for Vietnamese farmers who have more time to relax, enjoy life and be with their families.
Mid-Autumn Festival has become important to most Vietnamese families, especially Vietnamese children. They are looking forward to this occasion every year when they play with nice lanterns and eat tasty mooncakes.
Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival represents the reunion of families in the country. So that it is also called the Festival of Reunion.
4. Activities at Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Before the day
A half-month before the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival atmosphere can be felt everywhere. The streets, pagodas, houses and buildings are decorated beautifully with lanterns, lights and flowers. They sell lots of mooncakes, lanterns and other toys for children on the streets and at local markets. Women prepare ingredients for making delicious mooncakes. Children are looking forward to the day so that they can wear new clothes, play with lanterns, etc. A few days before the Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, they gift each other mooncakes.
At the day
Reunion, admiring the bright full moon, eating mooncakes, lighting lantern (rước đèn), unicorn dance (múa lân), offering mooncakes, tea, flowers to the Gods and ancestors are the most common and representative traditions of Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival. On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, they gather at home. They gather at the house of the eldest, watch the moon together, talk to each other, eat mooncakes and drink some tea, sometimes listen to music. They also arrange fruits and mooncakes on altars to show respect to their ancestors.
5. Vietnamese mooncake
Kinds of mooncakes
Baked mooncake (Bánh nướng)
Crust of Baked mooncake
The cake is called Baked mooncake or Bánh nướng because it is baked until goldenbr own and well-done. The crust should be tender enough and smelling. Baked moon cake has the crust made from wheat flour, syrup, cooking oil, egg yolk, sometimes peanut butter, five-spice powder.
Fillings of Baked mooncake
There are many kinds of fillings which can be divided into 2 main groups: savory and sweet. Savory fillings are also called mixed fillings because they are made by mixing lots of ingredients. The followings are ingredients for making savory fillings of Baked mooncakes:
- Pork floss, roasted chicken, Lap xuong sausages, shark fins, bird nests, abalones.
- Seeds including sesame seeds, chia seeds, watermelon seeds, wax gourd seeds.
- Nuts including cashews, peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nut seeds.
- Mushroom, wax gourd candies, lotus seed candies, pork fat, lime leaves, mandarin peel, lemon peel.
- Xo wine, five-spice powder, Mai Que Lo wine.
Ingredients for making sweet fillings of Baked mooncake:
- Lotus seeds, taro, beans such as mung beans, red beans, black beans, nuts such as black sesame, Coconut meat as main ingredients.
- Matcha powder, coffee, pandan extract, durian, milk, nuts such as chia seeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds as extras.
- Special ingredients such as chocolate, cheese.
Both groups can contain salted duck egg yolk which tastes rich, buttery and a little salty and helps to balance the flavors out the sweet and savory fillings. A 150 gram cake usually has 1 egg, the 250 gram cake contains 2 egg yolks. Bigger moon cakes contain up to 10 salted egg yolks.
The traditional savory baked mooncake is filled with a mixture of pork fat, lotus seed candies, Lap xuong sausage, cashews, wax gourd seeds, watermelon seeds, white sesame, finely julienned lime leaves, salted duck egg, five-spice powder and Mai Que Lo wine.
How to make Baked mooncake?
- Mix the ingredients to make the fillings, divide the mixture into pieces and form them into small balls, then flat rounds.
- Put salted duck egg yolks in the middle of a round, wrap the yolks in the mixture and form it into a bigger ball.
- Mix the ingredients with water, knead the mooncake dough, divide the dough into pieces and form them into small balls, then press the balls into thin sheets.
- Wrap the ball of filling in a flat round piece of dough and form it into another ball.
- Use a mold to form the cake into a beautiful shape.
- Bake the cake until the crust well-done, sweet-smelling and golden brown.
Sticky mooncake (Bánh dẻo)
Crust of Sticky mooncake
The crust of Sticky mooncake is made from Sticky cake powder (Bột bánh dẻo) or Toasted sticky rice powder, syrup and pomelo flower extract, cooking oil. The traditional crust of Sticky mooncake is in white color. In recent, the crusts can be white, green, red, pink, purple, brown, etc.
Filling of Sticky mooncake
Fillings of Sticky mooncake are all sweet and do not contain Salted fertilized duck egg. The most popular traditional Sticky mooncake’s fillings are lotus seed and mung bean. The ingredients for making fillings of Sticky mooncake are the same as ones for making Baked mooncake’s fillings.
How to make Sticky mooncake?
- Mix toasted sticky rice powder, syrup and pomelo flower extract, cooking oil into a sticky and smooth mixture.
- Follow the same basic steps of making mooncakes: divide the mixture (dough) into smaller pieces, wrap the fillings in the pieces of dough, form the cake using molds.
- The cake is ready after molding.
Baked and sticky mooncakes are two traditional Vietnamese mooncakes which have been the favorite of many Vietnamese people and foreigners for hundreds of years. In recent, they have created many kinds of mooncakes which are not only nice-looking but also delicious.
Sticky sweet potato mooncake (Bánh khoai dẻo)
Crust of Sticky sweet potato mooncake
Sticky sweet potato mooncake has the same fillings as Sticky mooncake. However, its crust is made from purple sweet potatoes, toasted sticky rice powder, rice flour, corn starch, wheat flour, condensed milk, pork fat.
How to make Sticky sweet potato mooncake?
- Boil purple sweet potatoes until tender, filter and mash it until smooth and sticky.
- Mix toasted sticky rice powder, rice flour, corn starch, wheat flour, condensed milk, pork fat. Steam the mixture for about 30 minutes.
- Mix the mashed purple sweet potatoes and the second mixture into the Sticky sweet potato dough.
- After wrapping the fillings in the dough and molding, the cake can be eaten.
Snow skin mooncake or Cold sticky mooncake
The less greasy, oily and sweet snow skin mooncake was created at a restaurant in Hongkong in 1989. It has been popular in Vietnam for a few years. It must be stored in refrigerator.
Crust of Snow skin mooncake
Crust of Snow skin mooncake is made by mixing toasted sticky rice powder, water, syrup, oil, then kneading the dough until smooth. The crusts are in different color and shapes so that they look very attractive.
Fillings of Snow skin mooncake
Snow skin mooncake is filled with sweet fillings. The ingredients for the fillings include pandan extract, milk, coconut, lotus seeds, beans (red, mung, black), chocolate, caramel, cheese, fruits (mangoes, peaches, blueberries).
Agar agar mooncake
Agar agar mooncakes have won the hearts of many Vietnamese people because they look beautiful and taste refreshing. In comparison to other kinds of mooncakes, agar agar mooncake is less greasy, less sweet and healthier.
Crust of Agar agar mooncake
The main ingredient of this cake is agar, other ingredients include condensed milk, coffee, coconut milk, food colorings such as pandan extract, magenta extract, beet juice, fruits (mangoes, watermelons, strawberries), etc.
Fillings of Agar agar mooncake
Vietnamese people have created many versions of Agar agar mooncakes which are filled with flan, beans, seeds, and even salted duck egg yolks.
How to make Agar agar mooncake
- Cook agar powder, water and sugar until boiling.
- Continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
- Pour a layer of agar mixture into a mooncake mold.
- Add the fillings.
- Fill the mooncake mold with agar mixture.
- Put the mold into the refregerator.
- The cake is ready when the crust turns thickened.
Shape of mooncake
Baked mooncakes are usually in square shape or round shape. They are also in the shape of rabbit, fish or pig. In Vietnam, they believe that the earth is square-shaped. The square cake represents solidity and stability. The round cake, which looks like the full moon, represents prosperity and reunion for the whole family. A mooncake in the shape of a pig family represents for the reunion of a family. Mooncakes usually have flower, Chinese character, Chang’e, rabbit, pig, dragon, phoenix, other animals patterns. The most popular is the lotus flower pattern.
Sizes of mooncakes and the biggest mooncake in Vietnam
Small mooncakes for children is about 50 g weigh. The most popular mooncakes are 150 g, 200 g and 250 g. A 150 grams mooncake contains 1 whole salted duck egg yolk. A 250 grams mooncakes usually contain 2 whole salted duck egg yolks. Large mooncakes are up to 1 kg weigh and contain 10 salted duck egg yolks.
On 24th August, 2019, two mooncakes produced by Bao Minh Company were recorded as the biggest mooncakes in Vietnam at the Monument of King Ly Thai To, Hanoi. Each mooncake has a diameter of 0.95 m, a thickness of 0.2 m, a weight of 150 kg.
How to eat mooncakes in the right way?
It has been said that eating mooncakes is an art. Vietnamese people do not eat mooncakes to fulfill their hungry stomachs but to enjoy them. How to eat cakes in the proper way?
- Use a sharp knife to cut the mooncake into quarters or 8 pieces.
- Be careful and skillful to cut perfect slices so that the savory filling or the salted egg yolks crumble.
- Eat the pieces of the cake with your fingures slowly.
- It is better to eat the cake with Vietnamese green tea.
Mooncake box and gift set
Mooncakes are packed in plastic bags are ok for buyers who will eat them. Although, mooncakes are usually destined as gifts for families, friends, partners, colleges, employees. A gift should be decorated beautifully. Certainly, the mooncakes should be packed in beautiful mooncake boxes. There are lots of kinds of boxes: paper, stainless steel, wooden, lacquered boxes. The boxes are embroidered with flowers, Chang’e, dragons, phoenix or beautifully designed patterns. They are in different shapes, sometimes designed as chests of drawers, suitcases, bags, music boxes, treasure boxes, baskets, lanterns.
Not only mooncakes but also tea and alcohol beverages are packed in the mooncake boxes. So that deluxe mooncake gift sets are very expensive. They cost up to 20,000,000 VND or 1,000 VND.
Where to buy mooncakes at Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival?
Mooncakes are everywhere in Vietnam during lunar August. You can buy them at mooncake stalls on the streets, mooncake shops, bakeries, markets, supermarkets, shopping malls, even hotels, coffee shops, fast food restaurants such as Lotteria, Mc Donald.
Prices of mooncakes and mooncake gift sets in Vietnam
A mooncake costs from 30,000 VND (~1 USD) to 3,000,000 VND (~1,000 USD). Expensive mooncakes can contain truffles, shark fins, bird nest, gold, silver, cordyceps, expensive chocolate, black garlic, gingseng, sea cucumber. Luxury gift sets usually contain expensive alcohol beverages, silver knives, rare tea varieties. Some mooncake shops offer promotions such as “Buy 1 get 1 free” for some mooncake brands on 15th day of the lunar 8th month.
The most popular Vietnamese mooncake brands
Best mooncakes in the entire country
Established by a French pastry master named Mr. Alain Portier in Saigon in the 1950s , Givral bakery brand is famous for luxury goods including bread, pies, fresh cakes, birthday cakes, mooncakes, etc. Givral’s mooncakes are known as one of the top mooncakes in Vietnam because they contain fresh ingredients, less sugar and no additive. The price of a Givral mooncake is between 84,000 VND (3.5 USD) and 917,000 VND (~40 USD). The price depends on the weight and ingredients. For example, the biggest mooncakes which is 1 kg weigh and contains roasted chicken, shark fin, bird nest, 6 salted duck egg costs 917,000 VND. You can see the prices of Givral mooncakes at https://www.givralbakery.com.vn/bang-gia-banh-trung-thu-2019.html. You can come to Givral bakery shops to buy the mooncakes. Locations of the shops can be found at https://www.givralbakery.com.vn/he-thong.html (Ho Chi Minh City) and https://www.givralbakery.com.vn/ha-noi.html (Hanoi).
This bakery was established in 1970s by Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dau in Saigon. You can see mooncakes of this brand sold at mooncake shops on many streets, at supermarkets and shopping malls. The cakes have been the favorite of Vietnamese people for nearly 40 years thanks to the reasonable prices and delicious tastes. The prices of Nhu Lan mooncakes range between 65,000 VND and 600,000 VND. Gift boxes cost from 210,000 VND to 965,000 VND. Read more abou the prices of Nhu Lan mooncakes at http://nhulan.vn/bang-gia-banh-trung-thu.html
Established in 1993, Kinh Do Joint Stock Company produces a wide range of foods and beverages. Kinh Do is specialized in confectionery products. Each year, Kinh Do offers nearly 100 kinds of mooncakes and tens of gift sets in the lunar 8th month. Hundreds of stores are open nationwide to sell mooncakes. The mooncakes are also sold at many convenience stores, shops, at local markets and supermarkets. The company also exports the cakes to many countries in the world. The prices of Kinh Do mooncakes range between 40,000 VND and 480,000 VND. Gift boxes cost from 470,000 VND to 4,000,000 VND. Read more abou the prices of Kinh Do mooncakes at http://banggiabanhtrungthu.com/bang-gia-banh-trung-thu-kinh-do-2015/
Dong Khanh – Bibica
Dong Khanh is a mooncake brand owned by Bibica company which was established in 1993. In comparison to the others, Dong Khanh mooncakes are cheaper. Mooncake gift sets cost from 445,000 VND to 2,050,o00 VND. A cake costs from 18,000 to 420,000 VND. Read more about Dong Khanh mooncakes at http://banhdongkhanh.com.vn/. Similar to Nhu Lan and Kinh Do, Dong Khanh mooncakes are easily found on the streets, shops, stores, markets, supermarkets and shopping malls.
What is my favorite?
I like Givral mooncakes the best. It is less sweet, the crust is thin and tender. I can feel that all ingredients used for making the fillings are fresh and high-quality.
The above mooncakes are automatically produced in large amounts by mooncake production lines. There are many hand-made mooncakes which are the favorites of local people.
Best mooncakes in Ho Chi Minh City
Brodard Bakery was established in 1948 and has been the best bakeries in Saigon and Vietnam. Brodard mooncakes are known as “green, safe and healthy”, “delicious and nutritious”. The prices of 200 grams and 250 grams mooncakes range between 110,000 VND and 320,000 VND. Mooncake gift boxes cost from 1,700,000 VND to 6,000,000 VND. Website: http://brodardbakery.com/banh-trung-thu-brodard-2019-mon-qua-y-nghia-mua-trang/. You can come to Brodard bakeries to buy the mooncakes. See the list of Brodard bakeries and the addresses at https://www.foody.vn/thuong-hieu/brodard-bakery-sai-gon
Lafeve Pham Gia
Lafeve Pham Gia brand is owned by Binh Vinh Company since 2010. Lafeve mooncakes are famous for not only great tastes, creative recipes but also dedicatedly designed boxes. The prices of Lafeve gift sets range between 150,000 VND and 480,000 VND. The highlights of Lafeve mooncakes are the combinations of greasy “lưu sa” and “kim sa” fillings which are made from milk, eggs and durians, chocolate. Learn more about Lafeve at https://lafeve.vn. Lafeve mooncakes have many shops at shopping malls in Saigon.
Bach Lac Company have produced mooncakes for over 20 years. A set of mooncakes costs from 1,088,000 to 215,000 VND. A mooncake costs from 70,000 to 180,000 VND. Learn more about Bach Lac mooncakes at https://banhtrungthubachlac.com/bang-gia-banh-trung-thu-2019.html
Hoang Kim Lacafood Agar Agar Mooncake
If you would like to eat healthy, refreshing mooncakes, Hoang Kim Lacafood agar mooncake is a good choice. You can come to 543 Hoa Hao, Ward 7, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City to buy these agar cakes at the price from 40,000 to 150,000 VND.
Best mooncakes in Hanoi
Hilton Hanoi Opera
Hilton Hanoi Opera is located at 1 Le Thanh Tong Street, Phan Chu Trinh Ward, Hanoi. This hotel is known as not only one of the best hotels but also one of the most expensive and delicious mooncake brands in Hanoi. In 2019, the hotel offers 5 traditional fillings: lotus seeds, green tea and salted duck egg yolks; red beans; taros; black sesame seeds; lotus seeds and green tea; and 1 new filling made from black chocolate, walnuts and hazelnuts. The cheapest gift set costs 800,000 VND, the most expensive set, including a bottle of wine costs 28,000,000 VND.
Ba Dan (Bà Dần)
This is one of the most famous handmade mooncake brands in Hanoi. The brand offers traditional baked mixed mooncakes (thập cẩm) and traditional Sticky mooncakes filled with mung beans and salted duck egg yolks (optional). The most popular Ba Dan mooncakes weigh from 170 to 310 g, costs from 25,000 to 85,000 VND. 1 kg mooncakes cost about 650,000 VND. You can buy the cakes at 52, Hang Be Street, Hang Bac Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Read more about prices and other places to buy Ba Dan mooncakes at http://banhtrungthubadan.vn/.
Bao Phuong (Bảo Phương)
Hanoi people is familiar with the scene of queuing up for mooncakes at Bao Phuong shop in 8th month of the lunar calendar every year. Established in 1954 by Mr. Pham Vi Bao, Bao Phuong has attracted customers for classic fillings (mixed, lotus seeds) and tender, smelling crusts. You can come to 201A Thuy Khue Street, Tay Ho District, Ha Noi to buy the mooncakes at reasonable prices. Mooncakes which are 150 g, 200 g, 250 g cost from 40,000 to 70,000 VND. 1 kg mooncakes costs 250,000 VND. Learn more about kinds and prices of Bao Phuong mooncakes at http://banhtrungthubaophuong.com/
Phuong Soat – Hang Chieu (Phương Soát – Hàng Chiếu)
It has been said to have the original flavors by Hanoian foodies and the elderly. The prices of mooncakes made by Phuong Soat – Hang Chieu range between 25,000 and 100,000 VND. You can buy them at 10 Vong Ha Street, Ly Thai To Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Learn more about the prices at Banh trung thu Phuong Soat Facebook.
Ninh Huong – Hang Dieu (Ninh Hương – Hàng Điếu)
22 Hang Dieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi has been the favorite place of Hanoi people to buy delicious traditional mooncakes. This brand lasts for many generations so that the mooncakes have original tastes. The prices are not very expensive, a cake costs from 50,000 VND. Read more about Ninh Huong – Hang Dieu brand at http://ninhhuong.com/banh-trung-thu-pc264119.html.
A gift set costs from 520,000 to 680,000 VND. A mooncake costs from 52,000 to 62,000 VND.
The cheapest gift set costs 160,000 VND, the most expensive gift set costs 1,839,000 VND. You can learn more about the prices and where to buy Madame Huong mooncakes http://madamehuong.vn/
Mooncake mold making
Thuong Cung Village in Thuong Tin Suburban District, Hanoi is known as Mooncake mold village. Although plastic mooncake mold having hand press handle with a spring are sold popularly at cheap prices, Vietnamese people still like to make mooncakes with handmade traditional wooden mold. An experienced craftsmen can only make maximum 6 medium-sized molds per day. The prices are from 100,000 VND. Bigger and custom molds cost up to tens of millions of VND. The molds are beautifully carved, in different meaningful shapes of animals (dragon, pig, carp, rabbit), and flowers (lotus, daisy). The craftsmen must use not less than 10 types of chisels. Some customers request for big molds which have shapes of pagodas, folklore characters, etc. After finishing, craftsmen usually use clay dough to check if the molds were perfectly carved.
6. Vietnamese lantern
In Vietnam, lanterns are used for decorating houses, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, buildings, shopping malls and public places. Especially, lantern is a must at Vietnamese Mid-autumn festival. Lantern represents happiness and luckiness. There are many kinds of lanterns in Vietnam, they are made from different materials, have various shapes and different ways to lighten.
The traditional cellophane lantern has bamboo frame and are covered with colorful cellophane wraps. The strong, light and bendable bamboo canes are used for making the structure of lanterns. Cellophane wraps are illuminated by the light of candles or light bulbs. Bamboo and cellophane wraps are cheap and easy to find in Vietnam’s countryside so that cellophane lantern is the most popular in the past. Grandparents and parents usually make the lanterns for the children in their families as a gifts. Sometimes, children can make the lantern themselves. Cellophane lantern usually come in shapes of star, carp, lotus, butterfly. The others are in shapes of different animals such as dragon, chicken, horse, boat, fairy. In recent, this kind of lantern is made by experienced lantern makers and sold popularly in August of the lunar calendar. The cons of this lantern is that the wraps are easily burned if players are not beautiful.
Beer can lantern
In the past, life is so hard that they do not have enough money to buy cellophane lanterns or fabric lanterns in Vietnam. Parents and children found many creative ways to make lanterns from cheap materials or recycled for Mid-Autumn festival. Beer cans are thin so that they can use sharp knives to make slices around it easily. Then they press the can so that the slices jet out. The top of a beer can should be removed so that a candle can be placed in the can easily. They simply try a flat belt or disk sander to grind the seam down until it releases. It is also made from soft drink can. These kinds of lanterns are cheap and popular in the past. In recent, not many children like beer can lanterns because they are less attractive than others.
Condensed milk tin lantern
Condensed milk tin lantern is rarely seen at lantern shops in Vietnam. They are almost handmade at home. Simply drill holes in patterns, then lighten up a candle in the tin. This kind of lantern is called drilled condensed milk tin lantern or lồng đèn lon sữa bò đục lỗ. Another kind of lantern made from condensed milk tin is similar to a toddler push toy. The handle of the lantern is made from bamboo. One tin is connected with the other tin using zinc wires. When a player push or pull the handle, one tin rolls on the streets or dirt path, the upper tin rotates. Candles are lightened up in the upper tin which has many holes in patterns. The lantern’s pattern creates beautiful lighting effects when the player push it around.
Cloth lantern – Hoian lantern
Cloth lanterns have bamboo frames and are covered with colorful fabrics with floral and landscape patterns. Cloth or fabric lanterns are in different shapes: ball, balloon, diamond, garlic, oval sphere. They can be illuminated by Edison style or led light bulbs. In Vietnam, fabric lanterns made from silk or brocade fabrics in Hoian are known as the most beautiful. Although fabric lanterns are more expensive than cellophane lanterns, they can be used for decorating houses after the festival.
Paper lanterns are in many shapes and colors. They are also made from printed paper. The structure of the lanterns are made from metal, wood or bamboo. Folded paper lanterns are very popular, they are usually in sphere shape. Paper cut lanterns are also beautiful, they have many shapes and patterns. It is better to illuminate paper lanterns with light bulbs.
Keo quan lantern
Den keo quan, also called Rotating lantern is a Vietnamese traditional hand-made lantern that has six edges, vivid rotating paper-cut figures on the cover. Keo quan lantern consists of 2 main parts: the inner and outer parts. The outer part also has a bamboo or metal frame covered with paper or plastic sheets in patterns. The round inner part, called “ruột” in Vietnamese has a frame with figures on it. The structures of this lantern is made from bamboo (traditional) or metal (big Keo quan lanterns), figures are made from paper (traditional) or plastic (modern). The figures include banyan tree, Cuoi – the moon boy, Chang’e – the moon fairy, the rats from the story Rat’s wedding, the buffalo boy, the kite, etc. A fan is set on the top of the inner part. Keo quan lantern is usually lit with candles which heat the air inside the lantern, make the fan rotate, result in the rotation of figures.
Plastic lanterns come in different shapes of animals, princesses and flowers. The pros of this kind of lantern is lightweight, cheap cost, different shapes, long-lasting.
Electric lanterns that light up, talk and play music win the hearts of many children. Most of them run on batteries.
Handmade lanterns made from recycled materials
7. Traditional toys at Mid-autumn festival
Besides lanterns, Vietnamese children love to play with qilin (lân) heads, drums, Earth God heads (đầu ông địa), kites, lanterns, paper masks (mặt nạ giấy), toy figurines (tò he), paper scholars (tiến sĩ giấy).
8. Qilin/lion dance or Múa lân
What is Qilin? It is one of 4 divide creatures along with dragon, phoenix and turtle. It has a horse body, dog ears, horse claws, a cow tail, a large mouth, a big lion nose, and a corn in the middle of its camel forehead, devil eyes, deer legs, five color back feather, yellow belly feather. In comparison to Chinese Qilin, Vietnamese Quilin has bigger eyes and nose, shorter snout, fan-like tail so that it looks friendly and lovely.
According to a legend, there was a monster kidnapping children and harming villagers. A lion helped to fight and abandon the monster so that the villagers were safe and lived peacefully.
The music in Qilin dance and Lion dance are different. Both Qilin and lion have 4 legs and 2 dancers are needed. In Dragon dance, more dancers are sometimes required because the body of a dragon is longer. Qilin has one corn on its forehead while lion has no corn. Lion has more feathers and longer feathers.
Qilin, lion and dragon dance bring good omen, happiness and luckiness to Vietnamese people. However, Qilin dance is the most popular at Full Moon Festival. On the day, streets of the cities echo with the sound of drums and gongs played by the Qilin, lion and dragon teams, songs about the festival sung by children.
9. Lantern parade or Rước đèn
Lantern parade is a beautiful illustration of how the brilliance of individuals can illuminate a community at Mid-Aumtum Festival. In the lantern parade, teams perform lion/qilin/dragon dance, others hold one or more big lanterns, traditionally Keo quan lanterns. Lots of people, most of which are children with lanterns on their hand, follow the dragon dance and big lanterns. They sing on the way and ask people on the way to participate the parade. The sounds of singing voices, drums, gongs overwhelm the streets. However, simply walking with lightning lanterns around the yard of a house or in alleys is also called rước đèn.
10. Where to celebrate Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival like locals?
Ho Chi Minh City
Lantern streets and walking streets
Luong Nhu Hoc lantern street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. What to do? – Buy lanterns, take photos and videos in the streets full of colorful lanterns, eat street foods, play traditional games. Check out more photos and more information about Luong Nhu Hoc lantern street HERE.
Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. What to do? – join lantern parade, enjoy large-scale musical performance and entertainment programs, watch Qilin and lion dances.
Activities: Kids learn how to make lanterns, masks, mooncakes, toy figurines (tò he), wear costumes; enjoy entertainment programs.
ScVivo City, 1058 Nguyen Van Linh Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 9:00 – 22:00.
Aeon Mall Binh Tan, 1 Street 17A, Ward 11, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 10:00 – 22:00.
Vincom Center, 72 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 9:00 – 22:00.
Vincom Landmark 81, 208 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 9:30 – 22:00.
Dam Sen Cultural Park, 3 Hoa Binh Street, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 – 18:30; Saturday – Sunday and holidays: 7:30 – 21:30.
Le Thi Rieng Park, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: 6:00 – 22:00. What to do? – release floating pool lights, join lantern parade.
Crescent Lake and Starlight Bridge, Tan Phu Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. What to do? – admire the full moon and enjoy the fresh air.
KizCiti, Khanh Hoi Park, Street 48, Ward 5, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 – 16:00, entrance fee: 150,000 VND (children), 20,000 VND (adult); Saturday – Sunday and holidays: 8:30 – 18:00; entrance fee: 185,000 VND (children), 20,000 VND (adult); free for kids under 3 years old. What to do? – do lots of activities for kids.
What to do? – join lantern parade, watch Qilin and lion dances.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ward 14, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
Hang Ma Street, Hang Bo Ward, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – Watch, choose and buy lanterns and toys, take nice photos and videos.
Phung Hung Mural (Graffiti) Street, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – take nice photos and videos.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter. What to do? – make traditional toys (kites, lanterns, paper masks, toy figurines), play traditional games (hop on one foot, hop in the sack), watch traditional entertainment shows.
- Kim Ngan Temple, 42 – 44 Hang Bac Street, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – see how artists make traditional toys (star cellophane lanterns, paper scholars, kites, steamboats, figurines).
- Old House, 87 Ma May Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – see how they celebrate Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival in the past in photos.
- Cultural Exchange Center, 50 Dao Duy Tu Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – learn to make traditional toys, paint masks, paint bamboo lanterns, make postcards, paint on gió paper, make rabbit lanterns.
- Quan De Temple, 28 Hang Buom Street, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – enjoy traditional music performance.
- Huong Tuong Temple 64 Ma May Street, Hang Buom Ward, Hoan Kiem District 1, Hanoi. What to do? – enjoy traditional music performance.
My Dinh National Stadium
My Dinh National Stadium, Le Duc Tho Street, My Dinh Ward, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi. What to do? – fly kites, join lantern parade, admire the full moon in a spacious place.
Activities: Kids learn how to make lanterns, masks, mooncakes, toy figurines (tò he), wear costumes; enjoy entertainment programs.
Aeon Mall Long Bien, 27 Co Linh Street, Long Bien District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 9:00 – 22:00.
Vincomn Mega Mall Royal City, 72A Nguyen Trai, Thuong Dinh Ward, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 9:30 – 22:00.
Vincomn Mega Mall Times City, 458 Minh Khai Street, Vinh Phu Ward, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi. Opening hours: 9:30 – 22:00.
Vincomn Ba Trieu, 191 Ba Trieu, Le Dai Hanh, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Opening hours: 9:00 – 21:45.
11. When Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival happens?
In next years, Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival happens from mid-September to early October of the solar calendar:
31 September 2020
21 September 2021
10 September 2022
29 September 2023
17 September 2024
6 October 2025
25 September 2026
15 September 2027
3 October 2028
22 September 2029
12 September 2030
12. A song about Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival
Rước Đèn Tháng Tám is a very famous song about Vietnamese Mid-autumn festival in Vietnam. You can listen to the song at
Below is the lyrics:
Rước Đèn Tháng Tám (Lantern Parade in the lunar 8th month) by Musician Đức Quỳnh
Tết Trung Thu rước đèn đi chơi (At Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival join lantern parade).
Em rước đèn đi khắp phố phường (We join lantern parade and go around the streets).
Lòng vui sướng với đèn trong tay (Being happy with the lantern in my hand).
Em múa ca trong ánh trăng rằm (We sing and dance under the moonlight).
Đèn ông sao với đèn cá chép (Star lanterns and carp lanterns).
Đèn thiên nga với đèn bướm bướm (Swan lanterns and butterfly lanterns).
Em rước đèn này đến cung trăng (We bring the lanterns to the moon).
Đèn xanh lơ với đèn tím tím (Cyan lanterns and purple lanterns).
Đèn xanh lam với đèn trắng trắng (Blue lanterns and white lanterns).
Trong ánh đèn rực rỡ muôn màu (In the colorful lights).
Tít trên cao dáng tròn xinh xinh (Pretty round shape and so high in the sky).
Soi xuống trần ánh sáng dịu dàng (Brings a warm glow to the earth).
Rằm tháng tám bóng Hằng trong sáng (On mid-Autumn Chang’e shadow is clear).
Em múa ca vui đón chị Hằng (We sing, dance and welcome sister Chang’e).
Tùng dinh dinh cắc tùng dinh dinh (drum sounds).
Tùng dinh dinh cắc tùng dính dính (drum sounds).
Em rước đèn này đến cung trăng (We bring the lanterns to the moon).
Tùng dinh dinh cắc tùng dinh dinh (drum sounds).
Tùng dinh dinh cắc tùng dính dính (drum sounds).
Em rước đèn mừng đón chị Hằng (We join lantern parade and welcome sister Chang’e).
Tết Trung Thu bánh quà đầy mâm (At Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, trays are full of cakes and gifts).
Em bé nhà ưa đứng quây quần (Children in families love to gather).
Đòi hạt sen bánh dẻo đầy nhân (Ask for Sticky mooncakes filled with lotus seeds).
Em muốn ăn bốn, năm ba phần (We would like to eat 4,5 pieces).
Ngọt thơm như bánh dẻo bánh nướng (Sweet and smelling Sticky and Baked mooncakes).
Ngọt cay như mứt gừng mứt bí (Sweet and hot ginger candies and wax gourd candies).
Ăn mát lòng lại thấy vui thêm (They satisfy the taste and make us happier).
Hạt dưa nghe cắn nổ lốp đốp (Eating watermelon seeds makes sounds).
Người vui hoan nói cười hấp tấp (People talk and laugh).
Bao tấm lòng mừng đón trăng rằm (All welcome the full moon).
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