Some traditional customs for Tet holiday in Viet Nam

Friday, January 27, 2017
(National Times)- Hobby of flowers, going to Tet makets, wrapping Banh chung (Square Sticky Rice Cake)... are beautiful customs of Tet Holiday.
Saying goodbye to the Land Genie and Kitchen Gods to return to the heaven
Since the man knew how to use fire to cook meals, there have always been Land Genie and Kitchen Gods in his house.
Land Genie is considered as the Deity of the land and the New Year tree is regarded as his symbol. Nowadays, the custom of planting the New Year tree has been gradually forgotten because their houses have no enough ground to plant these trees. The Kitchen God in every family is the deity of cookings associated with the adage "Fine words butter no parsnips". The kitchen in every house includes three gods made from clay and shaped into bowed frustum of a pyramind to form the three – pillar tripod.
The ritual of saying goodbye to the Kitchen God is a beautiful tradition which is of a spiritual significance. The gold fish is released as means for him to return to the heaven. This tradition shows the spiritual life of the inhabitants on the river.
Go shopping  for Tet Festival, get letters for worshiping
People go to Tet makets for mainly buying Dong leaves, meat, onions to wrap the Banh Chung. Also, people do not forget to ask the confucian scholars who are sitting at the gate of the markets for some letters so that they pray those at the altar. That is because of illiteracy in the old society for nearly all people. They have this custom to express their wish for their children and grandsons to have good knowledge and enjoy a thriving life. The words chosen to worship are usually Heart, Happiness, Virtue...The custom of praying the letters nowadays is being restored by calligraphy to represent a studious nation in history and modern times.
Wrapping Banh chung, Banh Tet
Banh chung which is wrapped well must be the product of skilled people, otherwise the cake will be cracked when it is boiled. This is also the great culture of the whole community to help to wrap Banh chung for one another. Boiling Banh chung is the part of activity people like most. At night in the New Year with little cold weather, people gather near the pot to boil Banh chung, which is the most exciting point of time for all people.
Banh chung is a traditional dish steming from the civilization of the sticky rice. Sticky rice is only found in ancient traces on the Red river and tied to the story of Banh chung and rice cake from the 18th Hung King when he chose the prince consort. Today Banh chung and Banh tet are still customary and extremely beautiful cuisine of our nation.
Cleaning houses
All objects, bowls and chopsticks are on the preparation and display. The cleaning up for Tet days has a significant meaning to end up the old year and celebrate the new one. People clean all the houses meanwhile rechecking all debts. They must pay all these debt because those will make them in debt in two years.
Welcome New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is the point of time for the interference of the heaven and the earth. At that time, the scared air creats a great spirit for all people witnessing with surges of emotion. People always worship outdoors by offering kinds of meat or fruits at New Year’s Eve. Along with these offerings, on the altar each family always has five fruits including bananas, grapefruit, cotton, citrus. In the south, their tray consists of five fruits including custard (wish), coconut (medium), papaya (enough), mango (spend), figs (affluence) or pineapple (flavour).
Be the caller on the New Year’s Eve
The people who are the New Year’s callers selected in advance and they will come to celebrate the new year earliest for one family. The time for the caller starts at dawn and in the whole first day. The puntilious people should not visit any family on the first day, especially those who sare mourning loved ones. A person can be also chosen at random to open the house in order to contemplate and think of all things happening in the new year.
Rituals related to Tet Holiday are the ceremony for respecting and keeping the hierarchy of ancestors, grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, relatives, neighbors, pilgrims. All of those people are always respected, leading to the phrase "1st for ceremony of fathers, 2nd for mothers, 3rd for teachers". The father is on the paternal side, leaving us all family so this side is considered important. Mother is on the maternal side, bring us human body so this side must be cherished. Teachers get us understand the life and the world so we must respect and love them.
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