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Vietnamese prepare for Moon Festival

It will be a sight to behold, 300 Vietnamese children carrying lighted Chinese lanterns and singing traditional Vietnamese songs _ all by the light of the moon.

And it can be seen Saturday night at the Minh Dang Quang Buddhist Temple in Town 'N Country, site of the annual Moon Festival.

"Celebrating the moon is a very old tradition," said Ginger Hoang Le, one of the festival's organizers. "This is harvest season, a time to relax and enjoy the full harvest moon when it is at its most beautiful."

The Moon Festival is a major holiday within the Vietnamese community. Geared toward children, it includes moongazing activities, games and prizes. There also will be feasting on "moon cakes," round pastries filled with red bean paste, fruit or jam.

"It's sort of like Halloween without the characters," Hoang Le said. "There will be a carnival combined with candy and prizes."

Moon festivals are held every year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. That's when the moon is at its brightest for the entire year.

A festival tradition includes telling children the story of the moon fairy who lives in a crystal palace and who comes out to dance on the moon's shadowed surface. The legend dates back to ancient times.

"It's a wonderful holiday," Hoang Le said. "It brings up special holiday memories, a time where friends and neighbors and children can rejoice in life."

Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripleysptimes.com.

If You Go:

Moon Festival

6 p.m. Saturday

Minh Dang Quang Temple, 5607 Town 'N Country Blvd.

Free admission

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