A calendar full of festivals
Life in Vietnam is a succession of major and minor festivals, principally based mostly on the lunar calendar – there may be seldom a day when the festival calendar is blank.
The minor festivals are largely both spiritual, primarily based upon pagodas and temples, or village festivals celebrating anniversaries of serious events or native heroes and ancestors and based on each village’s communal house. The village festivals usually contain an array of traditional activities, sometimes centuries outdated, ranging from boat racing, tug-of-conflict, and mock battles, to banquets, dancing and consuming competitions.
A lot of the ethnic minority groups additionally maintain common festivals, often with necessary ritual significances regarding the cycle of the 12 months and involving totems and sacrifices to bring good harvests. Beforehand ignored or suppressed as superstition, they are now held in greater esteem as potential vacationer attractions.
In August, we commemorate the Trung sisters, who carved their niche in Vietnamese history by main a revolt towards the Chinese language in 40 A.D.
Trung Nguyen (Wandering Souls Day) happens during August. This is when misplaced souls return to go to their dwelling family, who should deal with them with respect by offering them food and presents.
September brings Trung Thu, the seasonal Mid-Autumn Festival. It is a time for lantern parades and for children. The standard meals is Moon Cake (banh Trung thus), a moon-shaped cake full of candy green bean paste.
Tet – the lunar new 12 months
Vietnam’s major pageant is Tet, the New Year, celebrated from the first to the seventh of the first lunar month, which usually falls in January or February. It’s by far the most important event within the calendar, and is the equal of Christmas, New 12 months and the Fourth of July combined. It’s a time for travel – historically, Vietnamese folks return to their families, even from abroad. Special trains and flights are organized, and tickets sell out nicely in advance.
Making ready for Tet
Preparations for Tet start early. Presents and meals shares should be purchased – the streets are crowded with shoppers. Particular stalls spring as much as sell the normal Tet treats – banh Chung (fatty pork and bean paste in sticky rice), mut (candied fruits) and recent fruit. Public buildings, parks, streets and houses are decorated. Tet is a time for renewal, so all the things regarding the old yr should be taken down, money owed have to be paid, grievances reconciled, new clothes have to be worn, and resolutions for the approaching 12 months should be made.
The Kitchen God ascends
Every week before Tet, the Tao Quan, (a trinity of spirits collectively known as the kitchen god, or the god of the hearth) ascends to heaven to report back to the Jade Emperor on the previous 12 month’s events. To ensure a good report, the house has to be totally cleaned and the Tao Quan plied with food and gifts. Because the Tao Quan makes its journey on the back of a fish, it is conventional to release dwell carp into lakes and rivers.
The days before Tet
On the days just before Tet, the streets are thronged with individuals promoting the normal Tet timber, pink peach blossoms in the north, yellow apricot flowers within the south, and beautifully trimmed kumquat bushes everywhere.
Tet eve – the Kitchen God returns
On Tet eve, big crowds converge on city centre, completely blocking the streets. Dragon dancing, shows, music and dancing are everywhere. The spectacle is repeated on a smaller scale throughout Vietnam. The climax comes at the stroke of midnight, when the Tao Quan returns to earth. Within the cities, the sky is lit up by large firework shows (a substitute for firecrackers, which were banned in 1995 after several deaths). Individuals rush to collect green leaves for luck, and the noise reaches a crescendo.
Two or three days of peace and quiet
The subsequent day, silence! The outlets shut and streets are virtually abandoned, and stay so for a number of days. Families await their first guest (carefully pre-organized to make sure that it is someone who will convey good luck). Tourists coming to Vietnam in time for Tet and expecting something akin to a Mardi gras can be sadly disappointed. Tet remains a very Vietnamese affair, a time for household and friends. Nonetheless, Vietnamese hospitality will all the time guarantee a customer a heat welcome wherever she or he might go!