Spring arrives in Hue
(National Times)- Tet in the old citadel city is always traditional and peaceful, just like how people here live their daily life.
On the last busy days of the Year of Monkey, every corner of Hue old citadel has been bustled with the familiar atmosphere of Tet, the most important and celebrated traditional holiday in Viet Nam. The romantic city has been covered with beautiful hues of various types of flowers. Locals flock to the streets to hastily wrap up their last-minute business before heading home for a gathering with family in the year’s final moments. Warm weather with a bit of chilly indicates that a new year is coming very close. Spring has really arrived in the old citadel city.
|Spring has arrived in Hue|
Known for its long history and abundant cultural traditions, Tet, with numerous rituals and activities richly imbued with national identity, have become an essential feature in the life and culture of Hue people. Since the beginning of December (according to lunar calendar), the city has already been filled up with the rushing atmospher of Tet. The flower markets has also opened at this time with thousands of blooming flowers, from golden apricot, camellia, marigold, lily to dahlia, transvaal daisy and many more. All make the riverside city become more beautiful and attractive in this special time of the year.
|A flower market in Hue|
Unlike other regions in Viet Nam, Hue people celebrate their Tet in a very different way. Tet holiday in this old citadel means a great variety of spiritual, cultural and festive activities which significantly present the regional identity of Hue. Visitors to the old citadel on this occasion cannot miss these most distinctive features of a traditional Hue’s Tet, including: flower market on the north bank of Huong River, boat racing, traditional Tet cuisine, spring festivals, Sing village’s folk painting, Thanh Tien village’s paper flowers, Chuon village “tet” cake and many more.
|Selling Thanh Tien Village's paper flowers on Huong River|
Staying in Hue on Tet holiday, visitors can also have opportunities to experience the local unique worship culture, which has always been one of the most important parts of the traditional Tet in Hue. Years to years, these complicated rituals have always been carried out with the utter respect and sincerity by generation to generation of Hue people.
Despite being very complex and sophisticated, the worship rituals on Tet holiday in Hue hold a profound educational meaning for all family members, helping everyone to get closer on the most important holiday of the whole year. On the first day of the lunar year, Hue people often visit their ancestors’ graves, family’s churches/temples as well as spend most of their time with families. They only begin visiting friends and colleagues from the second day of the lunar year onwards.
|Boat racing on Huong River|
Another unmissable thing of traditional Tet in Hue is the folk games. In the past, the most beloved traditional games include “bai choi” (a card playing and singing game where players sit together and listen attentively to the host shouting out the name of the card he/she has drawn; to boost suspense and engagement from the players, the host often recites a line of a poem or folk song which contains the card’s name), swinging, boat racing, and wrestling etc. Today, only boat racing on Huong River and wrestling at Sing village still remain popular to locals and visitors.
|The traditional meal to worship ancestors of Hue people|
Traditional cuisine is another attraction of Hue, especially on Tet. This occasion is the chance for Hue women to showcase their excellent cooking skills to family, friends and guests. Traditional dishes, such as “tet” cake (a savory but sometimes sweetened cake made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with a mung-bean or mung-bean and pork filling), pickled vegetables, sour shrimp sauce (an orange-colored sauce made from fermented fresh shrimps) etc. and other sweet dishes, such as ginger jam, coconut jam, lotus seed jam, taro sweet soup etc. – all are carefully handmade by mothers, wives and sisters in each family.
|Hue women decorate their houses on Tet holiday|
That’s how Hue people celebrate their Tet. Not so loudly and busy as in other parts of Viet Nam. The spiritual and devoted meaning of an original Vietnamese traditional Tet can still be found in Hue. Tet in this old citadel city is always traditional and peaceful, just like how people here live their daily life.