Mid-Autumn Festival,traditional lanterns
Star/carp shaped lanterns made by Dung (left) are sold in front of Ly Tu Trong Street in Ha Tinh every Mid Autumn Festival for the last 30 years.

Passersby, especially children, slow down to have a few more seconds to look the lanterns. Some even turn their heads to look back.

Local people feel the Mid-Autumn Festival buzz whenever they see the lantern seller on the street. 

It has been 30 years since Truong Viet Dung, a 70-year-old veteran, started making lanterns for sale in the city of the eponymous province.

“I can not forget full moon festivals during my childhood when I together with other members of the local Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneers Organisation made star lanterns to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival,” Dung said.

With colourful see-through plastic, bamboo sticks and candles insides, such star lanterns lit up Dung’s childhood.

For children of those times, the simple toy was enough to make their Mid-Autumn Festival special and the happiness of holding a bright lantern, showing off to others, stayed with them long into later life.

Seeing children of today flooded with various kinds of toys or isolated with TVs or smartphones, since 1990, Dung started making lanterns to sell during Mid-Autumn Festival.

From the seventh month of the lunar year, his house in a small hamlet on Ly Tu Trong Street turns into a messy workshop full of coloured papers and bamboo and other tools to make lanterns.

“I just want to keep a typical traditional feature of Mid-Autumn Festival,” Dung said.

To make a star-shaped lantern, he has to stand for about three hours. He can make up to three lanterns a day and usually sells them for VND300,000 - 500,000.

Dung likes to decorate his lanterns with a picture of Uncle Ho on the heart of the star and on its backside, he sticks a poem about Uncle Ho’s love for children.

 
Mid-Autumn Festival,traditional lanterns
Dung uses cardboard and bamboo materials to craft the lanterns. — VNA/VNS Photos Hoang Nga

Besides star-shaped lanterns, Dung also makes carp-shaped versions with the carps’ eyes movable, making them look very vivid.

Children are most fascinated by the moving eyes of the carps, Dung said.

In the last few years, people around the city and in other provinces have heard about Dung’s lanterns. They order the lanterns for celebrations at their homes, offices or neighbourhoods.

On average, during Mid-Autumn Festival, Dung can sell 40-60 lanterns.

“I’m happy not because I can make an income from selling the lanterns but because the traditional lanterns are still present in today’s Mid-Autumn Festival and that people, especially children, know about it,” he said.

Phan Thi Ha, a preschool teacher in Ha Tinh City said that she usually bought Dung’s lanterns to prepare for Mid-Autumn Festival.

“Traditional colourful lanterns are indispensable in our Mid-Autumn celebration for small children,” Ha said.

Ha said that she visited Dung’s house, seeing him carefully and wholeheartedly make every single part of the lanterns and then, happily assemble and complete them.

“Dung is willing to show people how to make a lartern so that teachers like me can show our students later,” Ha said.

“It is not only about making a traditional toy but also preserving traditional values for next generations,” the teacher said. VNS

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