Chu Cuoi, the Moon Man Folktale

Tet Trung Thu is quickly approaching and according to Vietnamese folktales and tradition it is a time for celebration. During this time, families will get together just for the sake of being together and enjoying the season. Parents who normally … Continued


Tet Trung Thu is quickly approaching and according to Vietnamese folktales and tradition it is a time for celebration. During this time, families will get together just for the sake of being together and enjoying the season. Parents who normally work full time and hardly get to see their children, will take time off and spend more time with their children by making paper lanterns together, singing songs, eating Banh Trung Thu, Karaoke and sharing stories. Stories about life, stories of legend, stories that present myths, etc. This is a precious time for older generations to pass on their knowledge of culture to the younger generations as it had been done for them. This tradition becomes a medium for how culture is preserved and traditions are passed onto older generations to younger ones. Oral traditions are significant and the fact that they are in the native tongue makes them much more precious.

During the Mid-Autumn Moon time period, children hear about Chu Cuoi, the Moon Man. I have heard the story told as such, but in Vietnamese of course! Chu Cuoi is a woodcutter who found a tiger cub in the forest one day. He followed the baby cub because he wanted to catch it and raise it since it was all alone. He grabs the baby tiger and suddenly the mother tiger comes out of nowhere, searching for her baby. Chu Cuoi becomes afraid and begins to climb a tree with the cub in his arms. He accidentally drops the baby cub and it falls onto it’s head. Chu Cuoi starts to cry, for he feels bad about the death of the baby cub but he watches the mother tiger walk towards the bay. She rips off some leaves from a tree and brings it back to her cub. She rubs the leaves onto the cubs head and he is healed! Chu Cuoi witnesses this and becomes determined to keep the tree for himself. He goes over to the bay and digs up the tree to bring back to his home. Chu Cuoi advises his wife to water the tree everyday while he is away at work. Since the tree is special, he makes sure to tell her that she must use the water from the well. One day the wife forgets to water the tree and sees her husband coming home from work. She has no time to gather well water so she begins to pee on the tree. The magical tree becomes angry and begins to fly away. Chu Cuoi sees the tree ascending into the sky and hurriedly rushes to seize the roots and hold it back. The magical tree ends up pulling Chu Cuoi to the moon. It is said that his image holding onto the root of the tree on the moon can be seen during mid-autumn festival.

Where will you be this mid-Autumn moon festival and who will you be spending it with?!


  • Phat Dang

    You story is incomplete. There is a part that Chu Cuoi rescued a dog. Then there is a part that robbers killed Chu Cuoi’s wife because they wanted to see if Chu Cuoi can rescue her without her guts. He uses the dog’s guts to rescue his wife, and then after that, his wife begins to become forgetful, and that leads to her peeing on the tree.

    • Nhi To

      wow that is really interesting, I never heard that part of the story but thank you for adding it! The one I inserted is what I heard from my Vietnamese class.

  • minh thien

    so interesting!! my parents never told me any folktales, so this really makes me feel connected to my culture =]

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  • Anne

    Do you by any chance know of any sites that have Vietnamese folktales translated into English?

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  • Naomi

    My mom told me this story! Except she told me the wife used dirty leftover water from washing clothes, not pee :) Ah, brings back memories.