It seems like just yesterday we were rummaging through the boxes in the garage looking for lanterns and preparing moon cakes. Here we are again, the morning of the Moon Festival; a very special tradition in many Asian cultures. In both Chinese and Vietnamese it is a celebration of reunion. In Chinese that reunion is between Yin and Yang; a reunion between lovers. In my husband’s Vietnamese culture it is one of family; where parents return after a long harvest to be reunited with their children. The celebration is all about focusing on the children; a day to restrengthen the bond between parent and child that was missed for the duration of harvest. (For more info, see our 2015 celebration post )
Later today we’ll be stringing up lanterns and polishing up our favourite tea set to be served with our moon cakes. However, there are things that I like to do leading up to this special day such as finding literature or other stories to better share with them their Vietnamese heritage. It’s also a great time of reflection of the great sacrifice their grandparents (Ong and Ba) gave to ensure a safe and bright future for the family. My husband was eight years old when he and his Dad escaped Vietnam, journeying down a river on a small boat, followed by yet another one that would take them all the way out to sea with another thirty frightened and brave people. His mum and siblings would escape another year or so later. Just last weekend my father-in-law was re-accounting the journey for me. I have heard it many times, but with each telling there is always a little bit of something new that he reveals. I can see the images of him and my husband like a motion picture playing running through my mind. I imagine the boat as it fills with water and my father-in-law desperately trying to through it out with a bucket. I see my husband, a child, the same age as our eldest weak, fading in and out of consciousness from starvation and dehydration. All I keep thinking about as he tells me the incredible store is how thankful I am for him. If it wasn’t for his hopes and dreams for his family and his bravery, I would not have the live that I am living today with my wonderful husband and our three beautiful children.
I think this is a big part why I embrace my husband’s culture so much. I don’t want it to be all left behind before they boarded that boat. I want to make sure it continues on in my children’s lives and for generations to come. Much was sacrificed for this life we are able to live today and it’s important we keep the culture alive. Being American, I certainly had and still do have, a lot to learn about Vietnamese culture and history. It has been really rewarding researching customs and folklore. My husband says that I know more than him now! I have to say I rather enjoy and opportunity to teach him a thing or two.
So here I share with your our 2017 Moon festival booklist for education and fun reading with your children. I highly recommend Anh Do’s biography for light-hearted reading. His family’s journey has so many similarities to my husband’s (and many other ‘boat people’). It is full of inspiration and hope. Here also so great reads for your children:
I wish you all a wonderful evening under the harvest moon sipping tea and indulging on moon cakes. We’ll post pictures of our celebrations via or social media.