Story and Photos by Nguyen Xuan Quyen | Communication and Networking Officer
For children living in rural areas of Vietnam, the opportunity to own a lantern or to taste Chinese moon cakes is rare, but Heifer Vietnam is doing something to change that.
In partnership with its project management boards and community facilitators, Heifer organized a traditional Moon Festival for the children of 1,000 project participants in seven project communities throughout six provinces in Vietnam. Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn festival is also known as the Children’s Festival in Vietnam because of the ancient Vietnamese belief that children’s innocence and purity has the closest connection to the sacred and natural world. It is celebrated in the middle of August in each Lunar year, which is also rainy season in Vietnam.
The annual event was celebrated on Sunday morning and attracted lots of participation from project and non-project children. They dressed up, skipping with their parents to the village hall to enjoy the special day.
Traditionally, children enjoy this festival in the evening where they participate in parades with lanterns under the moonlight, however, celebrating during the day was just as exciting and fascinating for them. They cherished the lanterns and enjoyed the moon cakes that are baked specifically for this special occasion. The children enjoyed lanterns, cakes, and games. The prizes included notebooks, pens, and milk cans- though seemingly simple to some, but these children and parents alike were very proud of their victories.
The lantern making contest was the highlight of the day. Groups of four or five children worked together to make and decorate their most beautiful lanterns in one hour. Decorations consisted of bamboo sticks, red paper, and tinsel. The lantern-making contest provided a good opportunity for the children to learn how to make a traditional five-pointed, star-shaped lantern.
The Mid-Autumn festival gave Heifer Vietnam the opportunity to create a fun, carefree opportunity for the children in the project. The day also allowed Heifer Vietnam to create a stronger bond with the community. Through something as simple as traditional moon cakes, lanterns, and games-it allowed everyone to celebrate rich traditions and feel united. The day brought happy moments and motivation for parents who are involved in the Heifer project on the path against poverty and hunger.
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