Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bark at the Moon!

The Mid-Autumn festival takes place in Vietnam every year in early October.  It's a lot like Halloween with dragons and cakes in the shape of pigs.  What's supposed to happen is that the moon is at its fullest on the 15th day of the 8th month according to lunar calendar.  This is when the moon is at its brightest, and crazy people are at their most worried about the Werewolves of London.  What happens is that for about three days dragons wander the streets entering every place of business (all the business in Dalat are open walled) trading good luck for tribute money.  They dance, a drummer drums, and some guy dressed in red waves a fan at the dragon.  Large groups of people begin to amass behind the dragons and suddenly the mythical creatures has an entourage.  The crowds get so large that they stop traffic and the occasional wealthy man in a car gets upset.  In this case the dragon will dance on top of the car until the driver concedes and pays his tribute.  This happens until the dragon is satisfied.

What it is, is groups of male children get together and practice their dragon dances so that they can go around from store to store getting money from the shop owners.  This is supposed to bring them good luck for the upcoming year.  Following the three and four person dragons will be a drummer, a man in red who tames the dragon, and an entourage of children and adults excited to see the dancing.  Also during the Moon Festival groups of young adults get together to make floats out of bamboo and colored saran-wrap.  They make mostly stars, ships, and fish.  I saw one fish that was over twenty feet in length and required a week and ten people to complete.  They spend a lot of time on these floats and the students follow them, which make me think of the Rose Bowl or some other type of college homecoming parade.  A lot of people, particularly children carry candle lit lanterns with them, (see the picture in the photostream).  Most everyone eats moon-cakes during the festival.  Moon-cakes are bread like cakes filled with some sort of sweet filling either made from rice, coconut, or flowers and spices; these are the ones I have tried.  It's actually a lot of chaotic fun.  I got sing some type of Swiss Family Robinson "hello" song with a group of students and I was invited to eat lunch with a local family, who served something exactly like lumpia.  So I had a good time, plus a got see someone's lantern burst into flames.

1 comment:

  1. Wow dude. That sounds awesome. I'm sorry I missed it. I'm hoping Tet will be the biggest, craziest holiday of the year. It looks like it falls on Feb 14th this year so as soon as I make sure my finances are in order, I'm buying that ticket.