VHC Hosts Second Successful Moon Festival Event
Outdoor games, story telling, and parade celebrated Vietnamese traditions
For the second year, the Vietnam Heritage Center (VHC) successfully brought a Vietnamese-style Moon Festival to New York City. About 300 people visited Thomas Paine Park/Foley Squareon Saturday afternoon, October 10 to play traditional games, learn how to make lanterns and animal balloons, attend a folklore performance, and sample moon cakes.
Moon Festival is the second most popular festival in Vietnam, celebrating the harvest season. It is held on the full-moon day in the Lunar calendar (usually in August or September). The full moon represents prosperity of life.
“VHC is proud to present this Vietnamese holiday to the public, so that everyone can experience and enjoy the cultural games, food, and folklore,” said Thuy Q. Pham, Executive Director of the Vietnam Heritage Center. Ms. Pham also displayed a collection of books and paintings about Vietnam at the cultural table, including the famous “Tranh Đông Hồ” (Dong Ho folk woodcut paintings). Notably, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer provided VHC with a Certificate of Commendation in recognition of VHC’s efforts to share the Vietnamese culture with the public.
VHC also provided free samples of Bánh Trung Thu, a must-have during the Moon Festival, which are rich and tasty moon cakes filled with lotus seeds, ground beans or egg yolk. In Vietnam, it is customary to give each other moon cakes on this holiday. In New York City, children and adults alike enjoyed tasting the moon cakes, eaten only during this holiday.
The children had the most fun playing traditional outdoor games that have been popular in schools and villages for generations in Vietnam. They were challenged to chase their friends in Mèo đuổi chuột (Cat-and-mouse) or to carry the flag back to home base without being caught in Cướp cờ (Catch the Flag). They also learned about teamwork in Nhảy dây (Jump Rope) where children joined one by one to jump rope in sync with others. All the parents laughed when kids brought their own interpretation to vary the traditional rules.
For the folklore performance, the story of the Vietnamese Moon Festival – a man named Cuội, a tree, the moon, and why the tree ended up on the moon – was told by VHC volunteer who interacted with the audience to help them discover the story. Through participation, the audience more fully appreciated the meaning of the Moon Festival.
During the Moon Festival in Vietnam, children parade on the streets while singing and carrying colorful lanterns amid drum rolls. Dedicated to let everyone experience the Vietnamese culture to the fullest, VHC also concluded the festival in New York with a parade. With lanterns and animal balloons in their hands, children and adults joyfully followed a giant VHC-made star lantern around the park amid classic Moon Festival songs.
For more activities related to Vietnamese culture and language, visit the VHC website at vietnamheritagecenter.org to learn more and to sign up for the mailing list.