Today marks the start of the Hoi An Lunar Festival. Falling on the end of the monthly lunar calendar, this festival presents a light show of lanterns, candles, and local music. Each month the normally bustling streets of Hoi An are dimmed and people look upward to welcome the coming of a new moon.
People throng the streets of the city, faces cast in the glow of paper lanterns, sat down at low tables eating the special vegetarian fare and squatting down to let paper boats holding candles float down the dark face of the river. These specks of light bob throughout the night lending a dreamy feel to the already picturesque city.
For the Vietnamese the full moon is a chance to honor ancestors and heritage—a practice taken pretty seriously around these parts. Locals burn incense and money in their name. Fishermen honor the serendipitous blessings of the sea. Temples hold candlelit ceremonies with solemn monks in attendance.
These traditions are both touching and visually stunning. The multicolored lanterns, the vendors dipping candles in the river with a bamboo pole, the sampan boats ferrying couples and families among the specks of floating light, are truly something to see. Come down to Hoi An tonight to bask in the warm night air and reverent traditions of the local people.