Colourful Lantern Market

There we went to the colourful lantern market in Saigon's Chinatown, District 5. The lantern festival is one of the most colourful festivals in East Asia.

Impressions of Saigon's Lantern Market in District 5

Colourful lantern festival in Saigon, Vietnam

When you first come to Asia, all you see is flashy colours, especially since red is the colour of luck and therefore everywhere.

Colourful lanterns in Chinatown

However, during holidays it gets even flashier. Lantern festival draws close at the end of Lunar September (the "Ghost Month"). A very special and interesting festival of light and colour.

Asian lanterns

Similar to our habit in Austria on 11th November (St. Martin), when especially the children carry colourful lanterns and sing songs, children in Asia do the same - for another reason though.

Asian lantern festival

Another reason? Well, if you compare customs all around the world, they may seem very different. But if you dig deeper, you find stunning similarities.

Colourful lantern festival

Bright colours and light are destined to chase away the dark, the evil and similar unwanted aspects of life. Since lantern festival is the end of the ghost month in Vietnam, a time that can be compared to the original European meaning of Halloween (our world and the netherworld are coming closer and the separating veil gets thinner), it's pretty clear that people want to protect themselves with bright lights and flashy colours from evil spirits roaming the streets.

Asian lantern festival in Ho Chi Minh City

Even more so, families tend to set up tables in front of their house, displaying lights and a selection of (usually quite cheap) snacks for the haunting dead - if you give them some food, they leave you alone.

HCMC lantern festival

When I asked my guide if I could snatch and eat some of the stuff, she said "Sure, but people would assume you are a ghost."

A festival of colours

There are other customs during this time, like throwing real money out of the window to make any malicious or just suffering ghost happy.

Colourful Asian lanterns

And since in Asia, any body can be possessed by a spirit, nobody minds if the money and food goes to the homeless - an interesting form of charity.

Lanterns in all colours

Red is the most powerful colour across Asia, so on the lantern markets it is dominant.

Colourful Chinatown

Turns out, apart from the roadside kitchens, the bright colours are among the things I really miss, being away from our second home for so long.

Lantern festival Vietnam

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