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Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month according to lunar calendar, when the moon is at its brightness for the entire year, the Chinese celebrate Mid-Autumn or moon festival, 中秋節.  Yearly, a fairly tale was told about the moon lady and the parents asked children to look at the moon in search of her shadow.   However, when I was a child, I did not pay much attention about the fairy tale of the moon lady.  Instead, I was looking forward to making a lantern.  I recalled that my brother helped and showed me how to make a lantern out of aluminum can by cutting through the top and the side of the can so I could place a small candle.   It was a very simple lantern but it could endure the fire and did not burn easily as any other paper made lanterns.  In addition, I was looking forward to go shopping so I could choose a beautiful lantern, a butterfly, a gold fish, etc. made out of cellophane paper.  At night, I hanged my lantern by the balcony and watched many children walked in row and sang "Tết Trung Thu xách đčn đi chơi, em xách đčn đi khắp phố phường…" Regardless of ages, everyone was so happy with different lanterns in their hands.  The streets were light up by many lanterns in children's hands.  Those innocent looks and innocent laughs together with songs were the music of the night.


As with Chinese tradition, food is always the high light of any event.  Thus, Mid-Autumn festival is no exception, it introduces to the world, mooncakes.   They come in all shapes and sizes and are filled with different ingredients such as beans, nuts, fruits, and sausages. This is a very special cake because bakeries only make them once a year during Mid-Autumn festival.  If I don't eat the mooncakes during the festival, I will have to wait for one whole year to taste it again.  Back home, my family had a tradition eating mooncakes and watching the moon on Mid-Autumn night.


Now, in The United States, I continue to carry on this tradition of celebrating Mid-Autumn festival with my family.  My children are American born, yet, I would like them to learn and to share the Chinese culture. In the past few years, my children chose their lanterns (such as dragon, butterfly, and airplane…. They turned on the switches; the lanterns shined in different colors and played different music.  We simply celebrated mid-autumn festival with a pot of tea and mooncakes.  My children didn't know how to sing Mid-Autumn song in Vietnamese.  They carried their lanterns and walked around the backyard; looked at the moon and the stars and sang "Twinkle twinkle little stars, how I wonder what you are…”


This year, the children are four years old now, maybe we can show them how to sing "Tết Trung Thu rước đčn đi chơi, em xách đčn đi khắp phố phường……".  Again, we will buy lanterns and mooncakes.  Our favorites are lotus, durian, coconut, and taro mooncakes.  Once again, a Mid-Autumn festival night in California will begin with a bite of the mooncake, a sip from an aroma cup of tea, glaze at the moon, watch children play with their lanterns.


Happy Mid-Autumn (中秋節)



By Ung Suy Phan  潘翠

California, U.S.A. – 9/15/2006