Saigon is considered the most modern and developed city in the entire Viet Nam. Hence, people usually think it is being westernized. That’s not true! Although this city is busy all the time but Saigon still maintains its charming beauties and diverse culture, especially for festivals.
Every year when Trung Thu festival comes, people in Saigon, together with other provinces, celebrate it in peace and happiness. As our promise in last article, this time we will take you around to see how Trung Thu festival is held in Saigon’ style.
1. What does Moon cake mean?
When you see many stands selling “Banh Trung Thu” (Trung Thu cake aka Moon cake) on the streets, it’s the signal that Trung Thu has come. In Viet Nam, we have the tradition to eat Trung Thu cake and drink green tea on the evening of full moon day (15th day of the 8th lunar month). There are so many kinds of fillings in those cakes that you can’t try them all in one time. Basically, Trung Thu cake is separated into two main types, “Banh man” means “Savory cake”, is filled with egg yolk, grilled chicken, dried shredded pork, dried watermelon seeds, lotus seeds and many more ingredients. Another one called “Banh ngot”, which means “Sweet cake”, has the flavors of taro, mung bean, red bean, lotus seeds, etc. Besides baked version, the Vietnamese also has “Banh deo” aka “Sticky cake”. “Banh deo” is covered by a player of cooked glutinous white flour and is filled with sweet ingredients inside. More interesting, “Banh deo” is a unique dish of Trung Thu festival that only appears in Viet Nam.
Trung Thu cake has the round shape, which represents for the moon and family reunion. It tastes most delicious when combined together with green tea or jasmine tea. The good smell and the heat of tea go along very well with ingredients inside those savory or sweet cakes. Imaging you’re sitting in a small yard with your family members and close friends around, having merry conversations while enjoying Trung Thu cake with tea, how peaceful and joyful it is despite all the noise and heavy workloads out there.
Moon cake means the flavor of cheerfulness to Saigon people
2. What kinds of activities during the Festival?
Before and during Trung Thu, many activities take place to celebrate one of the most meaningful, with many enjoyable activitiesbecause it’s one of a delightful festival of the year. Starting from the early 8th lunar month, people are busy decorating their house and buying gifts (usually Moon cake) for their loved ones. Specially, they will spend time making lanterns for their children or buying it from the stores. Vietnamese traditional lanterns are usually made from colorful plastic paper, bamboo sticks and there is a candle inside to light it up. They have various beautiful shapes such as starts, rabbits, horses, butterflies, etc. As time goes by, the custom of making lanterns are still developing very well and this kind of toy have been improved a lot with the appearance of electronic lanterns in different attractive shapes.
Also known as Children’s festival, Trung Thu is a special occasion that every Vietnamese child looks forward to. On that festive day, they get dressed beautifully and go on a parade around streets with lanterns in hand. Afterwards, they can “break the offering”, which means enjoying all kinds of food that their parents have displayed on the ancestral altar. Children are allowed to play with their friends until late that night with numerous traditional games, such as “Bit mat bat de” (Blind man’s buff), “Rong ran len may” (Dragon Snake on cloud), “O an quan” (Mandarin square capturing) and many others.
Besides, in some areas there are lion dance performances, a type of street arts. Adults and sometimes children in colorful clothes dance along the drumbeat to entertain people. It is also believed that if a lion comes to your house, you will get lucky in doing business. Hence, people usually give some tips to the dancing troupe if they perform in front of their house.
3. Where to go in Saigon during Trung Thu festival?
The #number1place that we highly recommend to you is “The lantern village”. The whole area is lighted up by countless beautiful lanterns in uncounted different shapes, absolutely amazing! If you visit those streets, don’t forget to try one piece of moon cake and the delicious street food here with numerous dishes from not only Viet Nam but also other countries.
In addition to “The lantern village”, there is a variety of places to come to celebrate Trung Thu festival. “China Town”, “Ban Nguyet lake”,“Binh Quoi village”,“Dam Sen park”,“Suoi Tien theme park” are also good choices to visit in this occasion.
Last but not least, if you’re interested in Trung Thu festival and want to enjoy the festive atmosphere like the local does, the Tigers are pleased to show you around, taste some best dishes of Vietnamese cuisine and take part in amusing activities together. We are very excited, how about you?
By Thanh Dang