February 2024
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Happy First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of Fall … in the northern hemisphere anyway. Have you ever wondered what determines the last day of Summer and the first day of Autumn?

In the northern hemisphere, the first day of fall is the first day that starts after the autumn equinox (the day in the fall when day and night are the same length). Fall is the season between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year). The autumn equinox occurs when the center of the sun is exactly over the earth’s equator. This year it occurred at 15:44 hours on September 21st (yesterday).

We say the autumn equinox happens on September 21, but this is an average, and it can actually happen the day before or the day after (the calendar is not that exact, which is why we have leap years to straighten it out every so often).

The first day of fall is the next complete day after the autumn equinox. This is simple to apply if the equinox happens at 3 PM. But what if it happens at 3 AM? I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that, but I’d bet people call the day that starts at the next dawn the first day of fall.

As Summer comes to a close we now have our Summer activities, celebrations and festivals behind us, as we move into Autumn with traditional fall activities, celebrations and fall harvest time of year.

Here are a few of the Autumn activities and events going on in Saigon this Fall.

Many Mid-Autumn Moon Festival programs for kids are taking place in Saigon (HCM City), such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Boy Plays with Moon, Lighting Up the Faith, to mention a few.

Among entertainment activities for kids are special programs at Dam Sen and Suoi Tien theme parks. Children who bring lanterns to Dam Sen Park are exempted from entrance fees and fares for playing games inside the park.

Idecaf is running two plays for kids: Phu Dong Thien Vuong and The Flag with Six Golden Words.

Book stores are introducing many new books for children. Fahasa Company has joined with the Sterling Publishing House to organise a week-long English book exhibition for children at Xuan Thu Book Store.

Fahasa will open a new bookstore on Mid-Autumn Day in Lanh Binh Thanh ward district and will present gifts to 30 local disadvantaged students.

Disabled and poor children will be the focus of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 2008 held by the Saigon (HCM City) Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and Love Children Newspaper at the Union Meeting Hall.

Around 1,000 orphans, disabled and disadvantaged children will gather at the festival to play folk games and receive gifts of more than VND100,000 ($6) each. Around 120 scholarships worth VND500,000 each ($30) will be granted to disabled kids.

Artists who are favored by children, including singers Dan Truong, Toc Tien, Mat Ngoc girl band, and MC Thanh Bach, will participate in a show for kids entitled “Moon Boy Plays with Moon”, held by the national Vietnam Television station (VTV), the Viet Network JS Company and Korea’s NamYang Dairy Company. This VND1 billion show will be aired live on VTV9 and VTV4 channels. Ticket revenue, estimated at VND150 million ($9,300), will be donated to disabled children in Saigon (HCM City).

Nearly 300 blind children from Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Nhat Hong, Ky Quang, Bung Sang, Thien An, and Huynh De Nhu Nghia schools for visually impaired children are being invited to join an outdoor trip to the Thac Giang Dien Tourist Zone in the southern province of Dong Nai, organised by Saigontourist.

In Vietnam this is the time of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (or Tet Trung Thu, as it is known in Vietnam). This festival has an ancient history evolving around family and children.

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Tet Trung Thu) dates back as far as 15-20,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is one of the two most popular festivals in Vietnam, and has been important to families in Vietnam since ancient times.

It’s said originally, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. The harvest was usually done by September. Parents were anxious to spend time with their children and do something special with them, as well as celebrate the harvest, after spending a long time working hard and away from the family. It was held under the full moon, which represents fullness and prosperity of life.

Tet Trung Thu is very much like a combination of our American Halloween and Thanksgiving. Children parade on the streets, while singing and carrying colorful lanterns of different sizes. Some of the popular shapes include fish, stars, butterflies and a lantern that spins when a candle is inserted, representing the earth circling the sun.

Dances are also traditional, and include the dragon dance and the flower dance.

It’s customary to give Banh Trung Thu (boxes of moon cakes) which are traditionally very rich in taste. The cakes are filled with lotus seeds, ground beans and orange peels and have a bright yoke in the center to represent the moon.

Today, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, as well as encouraging affection for children, promotes education, poetry, dance and arts and crafts.

As a Saigon Kid do you remember, while living in Saigon, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival? What do you recall most about it? Did you take part in the celebrations? If so, how?

What Autumn celebrations and festivals are customary where you live now?

As always you are welcome to leave your comments below.


2 comments to Happy First Day of Fall

  • Alice Ahlgren Blackburn

    Hi Bob,

    Wow. How do you know this stuff? I do not, in fact, remember the Mid-Autumn Festival. Seems like I mostly remember terrorist related events like the bicycle bombings and the armed guards on the school buses. But on a lighter note does anyone remember the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign? Every guy at ACHS was driving a Honda motorcycle as a result – I believe most came in from Tokyo courtesy of General Milton Adams.

  • Admin

    Hi Alice! 🙂

    Thank you for the great comments! LOL .. how do I know this stuff … lol … Well… I have these little bits and pieces of memories that come to me … then I get curious, and research them to refresh my memories, etc. And, in the process discover all kinds of interesting things along the way.

    Terrorist events where next to zero during my time there as a Saigon Kid (59-61) and we didn’t have a need for guards on the school buses, etc. So, I don’t have any memories of those kinds of events.

    I’m affraid the Honda campaign was after my time also.

    AHHA! Soooooo … ACS became a front for a teenage motor cycle gang after I left … lol … Now we know how Ken became a biker! 🙂

    So, Alice are you going to tell us about the ACS Cheerleaders??? I bet Ken knew them ALL!! If he remembers them all or not might prove to be another story … ha ha ha 🙂


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