Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節

In Asia, the biggest celebration of the year is Lunar New Year but second after that is the Mid-Autumn Festival. You can equate it to Thanksgiving in its concept that it is a time to be thankful for a bountiful harvest. The Mid-Autumn Festival originated in China and today is celebrated in many Asian countries. In Korea, it is known as Chuseok and Tsukimi in Japan.

In Vietnam, it is called Têt Trung Thu. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, this corresponds to mid-September to early October of the Gregorian calendar. This timing also coincides with a full moon and the moon plays a significant role in the celebration. 

My arrival into Hoi An was accompanied by a cacophony of sounds - the rumbling of drums and cymbals crashing were distinct. In Asia, these sounds signal a festival. But despite the noise, I wasn't seeing many festivities. I saw bands of children walking down the street, stopping occasionally at a storefront, all the while banging on drums and crashing their cymbals. What was going on?

My arrival into Hoi An was accompanied by a cacophony of sounds - the rumbling of drums and cymbals crashing were distinct. In Asia, these sounds signal a festival. But despite the noise, I wasn't seeing many festivities. I saw bands of children walking down the street, stopping occasionally at a storefront, all the while banging on drums and crashing their cymbals. What was going on?

The Mid-Autumn Festival
in Vietnam is named
Têt Trung Thu.
What is it called in other Asian countries?

Legend has it that a man named Cuội hung on to a magical banyan tree as it floated up to the moon. It is said that if you look closely at the full moon, you can see the shadow of a man sitting under a tree. Children parade lanterns in the streets the night of Mid-Autumn Festival to help light the way to earth for Cuội from the moon. Therefore this festival can also be known as the Full Moon Festival.

The celebration of the harvest is an important part of Tết Trung Thu, as many Vietnamese live in rural areas and work as farmers. Rice is harvested before the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Each household then offers sacrifices to the God of Earth. During the harvest, parents do not have much time with their children but they make up for it during this festival. Tết Trung Thu marks a joyous occasion when the work is finished and there’s time to spend with loved ones. 

So in addition to being known as the Mid-Autumn and Full Moon Festival, Têt Trung Thu is also known as the Children's Festival.

cà phê

The other easy factor is that Vietnamese vocabulary is perfectly logical. The local name for Vietnam’s ubiquitous motorbike taxis, xe ôm, translates literally into “hug vehicle.”

A huge percentage of Vietnamese vocabulary is formed by just combining two words in a logical manner, whereas in English you'd have to learn an entirely new third word that sounds completely different. If I told you that máy means “machine” and bay means “flying”, could you guess what máy bay means?

Đẹp

Beautiful

Pronunciation: Depp (like Johnny Depp)
The simple act of saying đẹp while showing a local their photo and seeing their faces light up is utterly gratifying. My guide explained that it was a useful word to say when taking photos because it's often the case that locals might not have ever had their photo taken. They are often wary of a camera because they are unaware of their own beauty.
em thật đẹp You are beautiful

01

Duyên

Elegant

Pronunciation: Zu-yen

Duyên expresses how I view Vietnam and it's people: charming and elegant. Just as Grace is used as a popular name for girls in the west, Duyên is a popular name for girls in Vietnam.

 

An additional meaning translates to "the predestined tie that is believed to have people meet one another".

A little word with a big purpose.

Hữu duyên thiên lý năng tương ngộ, vô duyên đối diện bất tương phùng?

If it is fated, we can meet even if we are separated by a thousand miles; but if it not be fated, we shall not encounter each other even if we are face-to-face.

Thương

Beyond Love

Pronunciation: Th-uong

Vietnamese will define this word as meaning "more than love". In English, we tend to be limited in vocabulary options when it comes to expressing love. We are inclined to think of romantic love but of course, in reality there are so many different forms of love that enter into our lives.

 

Thương is tender, soft, long-lasting and is usually developed after a long relationship. This one word expresses a tender kind of love which you would sacrifice yourself for your loved ones; going beyond basic romantic love. 

It's that feeling of endless warmth you had when you were little and your grandmother says that she loves you.

Kỳ Diệu

Magical

Pronunciation: Key Zey-oh

It covers that sense of wonder and magic when you share the little moments in your life with loved ones, learn something absolutely brilliant, or make new discoveries. The tones of both syllables are low, light, and flow softly down the tongue.

My time in Vietnam was kỳ diệu.

What's your favourite foreign word?

All thoughts, comments, suggestions are welcome.

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