Have you ever wondered why The Moon Man (Chú Cuội,) The Lady of the Moon (Chị Hằng,) White Rabbit (Thỏ Trắng) and Lanterns (Đèn Lồng) have become irreplaceable symbols of the Mid-Autumn festival? In the Eastern philosophy, every iconic emblem is capable of imparting a great deal in terms of social traditions and meaningful morals. And there are always some legendary tales that have brought about these lovely figures and objects.
CHÚ CUỘI – THE MOON MAN
Once upon a time, a peasant named Cuoi discovered a big banyan tree in the forest that could be used for curing many diseases. He carried the tree back home and told his wife to take good care of the tree by the purest water, otherwise it will fly into the sky. One day, forgetting her husband’s instruction, Cuoi’s wife was urinating into the tree. And the holy tree began to fly into the sky. Cuoi returned just right at that moment, and immediately hooked his axe into the tree’s root to pull it down. Unfortunately, Cuoi was brought to the moon and could not return ever since.
CHỊ HẰNG – THE LADY OF THE MOON
The story beginning with the husband of Chị Hằng, named Hậu Nghệ, was revered for his brave and talent when shooting down 9 of the 10 suns with his bow and arrows to save humans. One day, Hậu Nghệ received the elixir of immortality from the Lady Queen Mother. A neighbor heard of it and tried to take it from Chị Hằng while he was away.
In a moment of desperation, Chị Hằng swallowed the liquid and immediately became a Goddess and flew into the sky. Because she still cared so much for her husband, she landed on the place closest to Earth, the Moon. When Hậu Nghệ looked up to the sky to call out her name, he saw that the moon that night was especially bright which allowed him to catch a glimpse of Chị Hằng.
THỎ TRẮNG – WHITE RABBIT
In the olden days, there lived a brave and kind-hearted white rabbit called Tho Trang . One moonlit night in the forest, Tho Trang and his friends held a party to welcome the Moon. During the party, they suddenly heard a scream – a human scream. They immediately ran to check and what they found was an old man fainted from hunger. While they were trying to help the man, a cunning fox quickly stole all the food in the party.Tho Trang and his friends tried to search for food to rescue the famished man.
Unfortunately, there was no food left. Brave Tho Trang abruptly jumped into the fire to roast himself as food to feed the man. However, it turned out that the old man was not a normal human, but a fairy, who had disguised himself as a beggar to test the kindness of the children. The fairy was so moved by Tho Trang’s self-sacrifice that he took the rabbit with him to the moon. Since then, Tho Trang has become a ritual animal in the Mid-Autumn Festival.
ĐÈN LỒNG – LANTERNS
Presumably there was a small but prosperous village lying near the river. Suddenly, there was a monster looking like a carp came and killed the villagers. Every 15th August (Lunar calendar), so many people were killed by the carp monster that they decided to leave the village for good.
Luckily one day a monk stopped by the village. After hearing the story, he told the village to make a large lantern in the shape of the carp. Inside of the lantern were small bamboos while the outside was covered with a red fabric. On 15th August, every house hung the lantern in the front door. The evil carp saw the lantern, thinking it was one of its fellows and then walked away without harming the people inside.
Since then, making lantern in every Mid-Autumn festival has become a traditional custom of Vietnamese people. As time gone by, lanterns are not simply a carp but in more complicated shapes like rabbits, dragons, stars, butterflies, etc.