A colourful fruit tray displayed to welcome Mid-Autumn Festival. — Photo tuoitrethudo.com.vn
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Nguyễn Thu Hiền in Hà Nội has tried her best to arrange a five-fruit tray (locally known as mâm ngũ quả) to worship her ancestors and for her children to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Usually the fruit tray includes bananas, a grapefruit, a persimmon, a custard apple and a pomegranate, but many families are interested in arranging others such as dragon fruits and salted dried fruits locally known as ô mai to welcome the festival, said Hiền.
“Mâm ngũ quả has been a part of each Vietnamese altar for thousands of years. It expresses our wish to be healthy and lucky year round,” she said.
The banana symbolises luck and family members being together, the persimmon represents happiness, the custard apple represents fertility, the grapefruit symbolises success, and the pomegranate helps to express people’s wish to have many children and grandchildren and they would always be united to welcome the festival.
Families often prepared things for the festival from the beginning of the eighth Lunar month, but this year many provinces and cities of Việt Nam have been under social distancing measures, so Hiền and her children have made items by hand to celebrate the festival.
People place importance on arranging the fruit tray to celebrate the festival wishing for health and luck. — Photo dienmayxanh.com
“Apart from the fruits, mooncakes such as bánh nướng and bánh dẻo should also be on the tray, so we made them at home by using materials available, such as wheat flour and sticky rice powder, green bean and chicken egg. We roast the cakes in an air fryer.
“Our mooncakes are not as tasty or colourful compared with those bought from shops, but our children are really interested in making them. They even try to make toy figurines such as little pigs, rabbits and other animals to display around the tray,” Hiền told Việt Nam News.
Hiền’s 13-year-old daughter Đinh Thu Hải said she is happy with her two dogs made from grapefruit, while her young brother was trying to trim a big carp from a water melon and make star-shaped lanterns.
A watermelon carved into the shape of a fish. — Photo toplist.vn
“We try to take advantage amid the pandemic to make these things to welcome the festival and also to improve our cooking skills,” Hải said.
Tạ Ngọc Anh, in Cao Bằng, the only province of Việt Nam to report no infections, said her family welcomed the festival with a five-fruit tray, traditional confectionaries such as chè lam (Vietnamese porridge), kẹo lạc (peanut candy), green been cake and ô mai such as prunes, salted apricots and others.
Ngọc Anh said Mid-Autumn is the festival of children, so her tray needs confectionaries and ô mai, as well as mooncakes and fruits.
A peacock created from a courgette and red chilis. — Photo toplist.vn
“We try to preserve this traditional way to celebrate the festival for our younger generations to follow,” Ngọc Anh said, adding that although it is the only province in the country not to be impacted by the virus, adults and children in the province were warned not to go out in the streets, particularly during the Mid-Autumn festival to join lion or dragon dances as usual."
In the past, under the full moon, Ngọc Anh and her neighbours sat together to sip a cup of wine and enjoy mooncakes and fruits while their children played in the large yard before parading with lanterns around the ward. Their drums were heard far and wide.
Apart from mooncakes and fresh fruits, ô mai or mixed salted sugared fruits are also displayed to celebrate the festival. — Photo tuoitrethudo.com.vn
“We all are very happy,” Ngọc Anh said, adding that during the Mid-Autumn Festival her family members enjoy watching the moon and making the tray at home together,” she said.
According to archeologists, the festival in Việt Nam had been established for a thousand. Since the Lý Dysnaty (1009-1225), the festival was officially organised at the Thăng Long Citadel with many activities such as a fruit tray competition, water puppet dance, boat racing, and lantern parades. — VNS