Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội’s Old Quarter will host the opening of the traditional Mid-Autumn festival on Friday.
Nguyễn Thị Thu Trang, a member of the old quarter’s management board, said the board will co-ordinate with local artisans to organise a wide range of cultural activities.
There will be an exhibition on the festival held at Heritage House, 87 Mã Mây Street.
Meanwhile, there will be an exhibition of folk paintings at the Hà Nội Old Quarter Culture Exchange Centre, 50 Đào Duy Từ Street. It will feature three famous genres of painting – Đông Hồ, Kim Hoàng and Hàng Trống.
From September 14-23, Kim Ngân Communal House at 42-44 Hàng Bạc Street will host artisan-led workshops on how to make traditional toys such as star-shaped lanterns, paper effigies, paper kites and tò he (figurines made from glutinous rice powder).
The 400-year-old art form of Tế Tiêu puppetry, which combines puppetry with folk stories, will be performed at 50 Đào Duy Từ Street on September 22 and Quan Đế Temple, 28 Hàng Buồm Street on September 23.
Another activity, featuring paper masks, has been organised for Đồng Lạc Communal House at 38 Hàng Đào Street. Artisan Nguyễn Văn Hoà, the last remaining practitioner of the art form in the Old Quarter, will demonstrate how to create these handmade masks.
“The traditional paper masks, as distinct and recognisable as the full moon during the Mid-Autumn festival, have for years been a favourite toy among Vietnamese children,” he said.
At nighttime during the festival, gleeful children parade around the neighbourhood wearing the colourful masks and carrying lanterns that illuminate the street.
The artfully crafted masks are both colourful and representative of the festivities. They are part of a tradition that is cherished among locals. But in recent years, imported plastic masks have begun to inundate the market. Despite these cheaper alternatives, people still love the simplicity of the handmade masks – a tradition that stretches back many centuries.
This year, the Mid-Autumn festival will take place at the mural on Phùng Hưng Street from September 21 to 23.
The festival will include traditional games and musical performances, with tug of war, blindman’s bluff, stilt walking, dances with bamboo poles and some board games featuring.
There will also be stalls with traditional toys and explanations of how to make them. Phùng Hưng Street was revived with beautiful murals recalling Hà Nội’s history thanks to a community art exchange project funded by the Korea Foundation, UN-Habitat and the Hoàn Kiếm District People’s Committee.
The area around the murals has become a space for public art activities.
A path lined with lanterns will lead visitors to the main stage at Lý Thái Tổ Garden, where they can see performances by artists Tự Long, Tống Toàn Thắng and Xuân Bắc. Artists from Thăng Long Water Puppet Theatre and the Việt Nam Circus Federation will also perform.
A comedy act involving traditional characters Bờm and Cuội will amuse young audiences with their staged competition, playing with Chị Hằng (Moon Lady).
Attendees will be surprised to see traditional characters supplemented with appearances from popular figures such as Elsa, Anna, Spiderman, Thor, Superman, Snow White and many others.
The festival’s other activities include traditional toy making, folk games, a unicorn dance and a lantern procession.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of Việt Nam’s biggest celebrations. It is also known as the children’s festival because of its emphasis on children. It is held on the 15th day on the eighth lunar month (September 24 this year). — VNS