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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Vietnam series at VietnamesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Vietnamese holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson # 17 - Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, called Tết Trung thu in Vietnamese, is the festival created in honor of the moon held each year on lunar August 15th. Vietnamese people consider this day to be a festival especially important for children, or trẻ em. In this lesson, let's learn about the atmosphere in Vietnam during the Mid-Autumn Festival!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What dance is considered to be an indispensable part of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Every year come lunar August 15th, streets with toy vendors and cake shops become especially crowded and busy. This is because the Mid-Autumn festival is one of the most popular times for adults to give children toys, such as masks, called mặt nạ, lanterns, or đèn lồng and other modern toys, referred to as đồ chơi, which include things like miniature airplanes, cars, and dolls. It's likely for this reason that this is one of the longest awaited festivals of the year for most Vietnamese children.
Around one to two weeks prior to lunar August 15th, many cake shops start to produce large quantities of baked moon cakes, called bánh nướng, and sticky rice cakes, called bánh dẻo. Traditional baked moon cakes use a dough made from wheat flour, and contain mixed fillings. After baking, these cakes take on an amber color. Sticky rice cakes, on the other hand, are made from smooth roasted glutinous rice flour. The filling is made from already cooked ingredients. Thus, after forming the cakes, they can be eaten immediately, without any further baking. Vietnamese people often buy and eat these cakes with tea while looking at the moon during this festival.
When the moon rises high in the sky and is most visible, it’s finally time to serve out the Mid-Autumn Festival cakes and fruit. Mid-Autumn offerings usually also contain grapefruits in the shape of dogs, red kaki fruits, fish-shaped sticky rice cakes and pig-shaped moon cakes. During this time, people eat cakes, look at the moon, and converse with one another. Children participate in an activity called “the lantern parade,” held throughout local streets, and all play together with their new toys.
There’s also an interesting folk tradition associated with this day. Grapefruit seeds are peeled and pricked with a steel line and left to dry in the sun for two to three weeks prior. On Mid-Autumn’s night, the lines with the grapefruit seeds on them are burned, which give off light and fun popping sounds.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
What dance is considered to be an indispensable part of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam?
The answer is, the lion dance! This dance is performed by children and professional dance teams. They ask for permission from the owners of the houses they visit to perform the lion dance using large drums in order to create a happy atmosphere and wish luck upon all nearby homeowners.
So listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Do you celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at VietnamesePod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!