Folk humor adds zest to children's Tet

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Almost every street in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and other localities nationwide has taken on added color and shine in the last few weeks.

They all have brightly lit stalls and shops selling moon cakes packaged predominantly in red and yellow, and in the last few years, in many more colors.

The appearance of these shops well in advance of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar calendar month (falling this year on September 22) also sparks excitement among children.

This festival is also known as the Children's Tet (Tet is Vietnam's Lunar New Year) and it carries a lot of treats for them, apart from the moon cakes. It is a time that parents buy colorful lanterns and/or toys and several festive activities are specially aimed at children.

Theaters, for example, prepare humorous plays with colorful settings every year for this festival. HCMC and Hanoi are at the forefront of this activity.

As one of leaders in producing plays for kids, IDECAF Theater in HCMC will take children to a southern Vietnamese village of the old times, where they can enjoy folk humor with Vo cong tieu quai (Rascals' Kung Fu).

With no fairies or magic that are staple in Vietnamese plays for kids, Vo cong tieu quai aims to give children an awareness of positive characteristics that their ancestors carried, like a sense of justice, patience and solidarity.

Phu Nhuan, another major theater in HCMC, presents Cuoc chien am thuc (Food fight), based on a folk legend about traditional Vietnamese cakes made of glutinous rice served for Tet, called banh chung and banh day.

In Hanoi, children will be treated to music, stage plays and circus performances, also based on folk stories, performed at the Au Co Theater, Children's Cultural House, and the Central Circus.

As the capital is gearing up for the celebrating its 1,000th anniversary next month, the Vietnam Association for Protection of Children's Rights has cooperated with the Hanoi Department of Education and Training to hold elaborate lion dances, lantern marches and comedy plays for children on September 22.

Three days before the festival, children will be taught to make traditional toys like to he (figurines made from glutinous rice powder), lanterns, and bamboo dragonflies.

Organizers also plan to have nearly 3,000 students from 100 local elementary schools to set up food trays for display on the festival night. Traditionally, a tray will include fruits like banana, persimmon, and grapefruit (often shaped like a dog), moon cakes and sticky rice cakes.

All these trays will then be placed in the shape of a dragon in celebration of the millennial anniversary of Thang Long (Ascending Dragon)-Hanoi.

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