Not only in Vietnam, but the Mid-Autumn Festival has been welcomed as one of the most significant occasions in other Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. In each nation, the festival has a particular meaning which leads to its different celebration.
Vietnam – The Festival of Children
The main subject of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is children. It is the time when children receive a lantern to play with their friends, enjoy pieces of mooncakes to fulfil their sweet appetite and watch joyful lion dance performance. During the night of the festival, the scenery of children holding lanterns and parading along the streets is sure the most beautiful image of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.
China – The Mooncake Festival
Mooncakes have been long recognized as an iconic object of the festival in the Chinese traditions, symbolizing the completeness and reunion. On this special day, no matter how busy they are, Chinese usually come back home to spend time with their families. Under the full Moon, family members sit together in the open air, talk with one another, and enjoy a piece of mooncakes in companion with a cup of tea. For those who are living far away and cannot make the way home, appreciating the Moon brings the feeling as if they were there with their families because the Moon is absolutely the same one no matter where they are.
Japan – The Festival of Moon Observing
In Japan, the Mid-Autumn festival is also called as Otsukimu, literally meaning moon-observing (お月見)(Lễ hội ngắm trăng). Besides, the festival is the time for Japanese to honour the Moon in the autumn, the brightest moon throughout the year.
In the past, while appreciating the Moon, Japanese usually enjoyed white-round glutinous rice cakes put in a food tray in the middle of house yard. However, as some Japanese told me, this tradition has long been faded, and Japanese nowadays do not eat this cake any longer.
4/ Korea – Chuseok Festival
In Korea, the Mid-Autumn festival has the other name of Chuseok Festival (Lễ Tạ ơn in Vietnamese,) primarily aiming at cherishing bumper harvests and taking reverence for the ancestors. During the festival, Koreans have a tendency to make a three-day trip to their hometowns to reunion with family members and friends.
The typical of Korean traditional food in the festival is a kind of crescent moon-shaped cake called songpyegon (Bánh gạo) served with sindoju (type of native alcohol.)
Singapore – Going on excursions
It seems to Singaporeans that Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the golden chances to get away from all worries of hectic lifestyle. Therefore, instead of having family gatherings, they prefer to spend time travelling or even going off the beaten track.
However, mooncakes and lanterns are still typically irreplaceable signals of the festival. Singaporeans usually send some boxes of mooncakes as gifts to beloved ones and do not forget to attach some wishes for them.
6/ Malaysia – The Mooncake and Lantern Festivals
In Malaysian, the Mid-Autumn Festival is split into two important events, including Mooncake Festival (from 19th to 21st Sep) and Lantern Festival (16th Sep.) Generally speaking, Malaysians celebrate the festival in the same way as Vietnamese, including appreciating the moon, enjoying mooncakes, and decorating lighting lanterns. What’s more, the Chinese communities in Kuala Lumpur often join in such exciting outdoor activities as lion dance, dragon dance and lantern parade on the streets.
7/ Thailand – The Prayer Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also called “Prayer Festival” by Thais. It is the time to pay a token of gratitude to nature for its bounty and to remember their ancestors. The Chinese temples in Thailand are mostly crowded with people offering incense, candles and fruits to the Moon Goddess. Moreover, Thais usually offer a kind of peach-shaped cakes to the Buddha on that day and then family members gather around the table with the offerings to worship the Moon, pray and exchange greetings.