HUNTINGTON BEACH : Moon Stars in Vietnamese Festival


Vietnamese students at Golden West College donned dragon masks and traditional ao dai dresses Thursday to introduce their fellow students to the dances and customs of the annual Moon Festival.

“We started doing it this year because we wanted to share this event with the campus,” said Tiffany Tran, an adviser to the Vietnamese Student Assn., which sponsored the event.

In Vietnam, the holiday is celebrated when the moon is full in August. Handmade lanterns in the shape of insects and animals figure prominently in the holiday, and the story of the tree in the moon is dramatized.


According to legend, a farmer told his wife not to put muddy water on the roots of his magic tree, but she did anyway. When the tree started to fly away, the farmer held on and was carried to the moon.

As the story goes, “he wants to come back but he can’t,” said Huongthuy Huynh, a 21-year-old chemistry and dance student at the college.

Historically, the story was told to illustrate the point that women should obey their husbands. Over the years, however, the festival has become primarily a children’s holiday.

In another break with tradition, modern festivities include women in the dragon dance, which in the past was for men only.

Few Vietnamese ceremonies are complete without dragon dancers, adviser Tran said. This year, a troupe from Westminster High School joined college students in bright yellow and orange costumes for the traditional dance.

The techniques of dragon dancing are handed down by elders in the community.

“My father taught me,” said Vu Phong, a 22-year-old Golden West student. “It’s really fun, and it is a part of my culture.”