Celebrations: Lanterns and moon-cakes at the Vietnamese mid-autumn festival

Celebrations: Lanterns and moon-cakes at the Vietnamese mid-autumn festival

There are 363 Vietnamese residents in Christchurch (2013 census). The Vietnamese Society of Christchurch was formed with the main objective, that is promoting and fostering 1/ friendship understanding among society members and 2/ the culture and tradition of Vietnam. Minh Lengoc is elected to coordinate the society activities, which serve the above objective. This year the Society celebrated the Vietnmese mid-autumn festival on September 25th in Templin hall of Canterbury Horticultural Centre, Hagley park. The celebration not only helped the organizer achieve the Society’s objective, it also gave the children, especially those who were born outside Vietnam, the opportunity to experience first hand Vietnamese custom and tradition of mid-autumn festival. Mid-autumn festival is also known as children festival.

 Guests were treated to traditional Vietnamese food along with various song and dance performances

Guests were treated to traditional Vietnamese food along with various song and dance performances

Two special features of the mid-autumn festival are the lanterns and the mooncake. The lanterns were brought all the way from Vietnam. The large lanterns were hung in the hall, as part of the decoration. The small ones were given to the children to carry in the lantern parade. The mooncake was specially baked by a local Vietnamese baker, who came from a famous baking family in Vietnam.

The hall was well decorated for the occasion plus a few posters of famous Vietnam landmarks. The festival was attended by about 160 adults and 60 children. The organizer was pleased by the attendance of a number of friends of other ethnicity of the city. Many Vietnamese ladies wore “ao dai”, the Vietnamese traditional / national women costume. Some parents also dressed their children in traditional costumes. This year we had the honour to have the attendance of Dr Megan Woods, member of parliament for Wigram. The celebration was conducted in Vietnamese and English by two MC’s, Kim and Minh.

Children games started from 11AM until lunch time at 12, while adults enjoyed the karaoke session. A sumptuous lunch of Vietnamese ethnic foods was served. Among these were “goi cuon” (fresh rice paper rolls plus the dip), “che dau” (desert of white beans in glutinous rice served with cocout cream), shrimp salads, rice noodles… and of course the mooncake. Festival attendants certainly had a taste of Vietnam and they appreciated that.

The program started with fire crackers, this was followed by the lion dance, which was performed by Vietnamese children. The dance was well received and appreciated by the audience. Immediately after the lion dance, children carrying lanterns paraded in front of the stage before the MC’s delivered their welcoming speech.

The celebration program included children performance, singing and flute playing. The traditional music was performed by a live band and singers. Children were excited when lining up for their presents. Like in most Vietnamese festivals, a raffle was organized with a turning wheel. The celebration ended with a bamboo stick game, where the audience participated.

- Minh Lengoc, President, Vietnamese Society of Christchurch

- All pictures in this story are courtesy the Vietnamese Society of Christchurch

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