Paper Lantern Night – Vietnamese Traditions


Trista Truong, Writer

Vibrant lanterns illuminating the night sky. The sound of loud percussion followed with the dancing lions. This is paper lantern night. On the first day of fall is when this event takes place. This Vietnamese tradition dated back to the autumn of 1998 in Hi An, a city in Vietnam.

Everynight on the first Saturday of fall, everyone gathers at our temple to celebrate this occasion. We walk around the temple to the beat of the percussion while watching the lion dance team. Although this is a Vietnamese tradition, anyone is welcome to join. In our hands are colorful lanterns and on our faces are huge smiles. Not to mention the camera we hold to capture this beautiful night.

As mentioned before, Hi An is a city located on Vietnam’s central coast. Paper lantern night, also known as Tết Trung Thu, is for kids and adults. How we celebrate here in Fort Smith is not even half as big in Hi An. The whole city is lit up with bright, colorful lanterns. Every year Hi An attracts tens of thousands of foreign tourists because of this autumn festival.

The lanterns come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. There are some in the shape of stars, fish, and the traditional round. There is a little tassel at the bottom of the lantern as well. At my temple, there is always a competition on who can make the best paper lantern. I always look forward to seeing the different ones each year. Another thing I love is the lion dance. Lion dance is when people get in costume and perform as a lion. The costumes are very bright and colorful. Some of them even have lights. The lions do cool tricks and collect donations from the audience for our temple. Children are always amused by the large lions.

Getting to be apart of Tết Trung Thu is always fun. I enjoy spending a night with my family and other people like me. The night is always filled with laughter and smiles. This culture is my culture and I am honored to be apart of it.