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Discussion Starter #1
I promised to some of you that I'll tell you about Vietnamese traditional New Year Festival (Tet days) when I see the Tet's colors on Hanoi street. And today is a good day to do it.

Firstly, I'd like to introduce some main info.

The Lunar New Year Festival, or Tet Nguyen Dan, is the biggest festival to take place every year in Vietnam. The festival starts on the first day of the lunar new year and lasts for about 3-5 days or even an entire week some regions.

Before that, according to Vietnamese traditions, there are many activites to prepare for Tet such as the day Kings of kitchen going to heaven.

The 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month is the festival day of Tao Quan (Kings of Kitchen). On that day, the Kings fly to Heaven to inform the Jade Emperor of their owner's affairs during the year round.

Legend has it that once there lived a couple who has divorced because of their poverty. The women then remarried to a new rich man. One day while they were burning paper money and clothes to their ancestors in the yard, a beggar came in. The woman realized that the beggar was her former husband. So moved by his fate, she gave him money and rice, not wanting her new husband to know. Later, the new husband was told about this and he suspected the woman's virtue. The woman, to prove her righteousness, committed suicide by jumping in to the fire. Seeing this heart-rending sight, the former husband also jumped into the fire. The new husband, regretting for what he has thought of his wife, did the same as the other two did. The Jade Emperor moved by their faithfulness offered them the title of Kings of Kitchen.

Based on that legend, on 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month, every household buys 2 male hats for two men and 1 female hat for woman, together with three fresh carps (acting as horses for the Kings). After the offering ceremony, the household owner releases the carps to the lakes or ponds nearby.

This is a picture about this custom :)

Buy and release the golden carps (photos taken last year)




Sell paper-hats for Kings of kitchen


(be continued) :D
 

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Traditional New Year

Tio, that's really interesting. Thanks for posting those pictures as well.
Happy New Year to you.

Seashell
 

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It is wonderful to see old traditions continuing through modern times. I enjoyed learning about the sacrifices of The Kings of Kitchen - it is a touching story in the end.
Happy New Year :)
ps Tio - I am looking forward to reading more
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Oh, I just saw some Tet's colors, not Tet's atmosphere, there are more than 10 days left. We prepare for Tet so early :) The earliest activity is selling calendars. This year, I don't have to buy calendar (a friend of my mother gave me a beautiful one as a gift) but I still go to Hang Trong street which is considered as calendars' street to gaze at hundred of calendars kinds, they look like many paintings. And this is a photo of one kind, the popular calligraphical calendar.



I'll post the next part of my topic later. Now, it's 9.35 AM and I gotta go.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
After the Kings of kitchen have gone to the Heaven, preparations for the New Year festivities begin in enthusiasm. The week before New Year's Eve is called a period of "Tat Nien". Tat Nien (literally meaning the end or "to extinguish the year") is the celebration of the last session of a period, such as the last dinner, the last day in the office, even the last bath or the last debt, all with parties and great ceremonies.

Years ago, almost families set up a Tet tree outside the house in the week before New Year's Eve. The Tet tree, called cay neu, is a bamboo pole (New Year's Tree) stripped of its leaves except for a tuft on top. Red paper is used to decorate the tree, which is planted outside the house during the Tet holiday. The cay neu has Taoist origins and holds talismanic objects that clang in the breeze to attract good spirits and repel evil ones. On the very top, they frequently place a paper symbol of yin and yang, the two principal forces of the universe. Sometimes a colorful paper carp flag will fly from the top. This tree is more common in the countryside now than in the city. It is ceremonially removed after the seventh day of the new year.

Cay neu (Tet tree) - I can not find one in Hanoi now, so I scanned a book cover as illustration for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The "five-fruit tray" on the ancestral altar during the Tet Holidays symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for a life of plenty. As one theory goes, the five fruits are symbolic of the five basic elements of oriental philosophy: metal,wood, water, fire, and earth. Some people believe that the five fruits are symbols of the five fingers of a man''s hand that is used to produce physical wealth for his own use and to make offerings to his ancestors.

However, in a simpler way, the five fruits represent the quintessence that Heaven and Earth bless humans. This is one of the general perceptions of life of the Vietnamese, which is "Taking fruit, you should think of the grower". Today, the tray may contain five or more fruits, in the form of a pyramid like before or in an different shape. Regardless, it is still called the Mam Ngu Qua, the five-fruit tray.


 

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Hearing about other cultures is very intesresting and fun! Thank you for sharing Tio! (If any one else has customs or traditions in their country please share as well.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Vietnamese Peach Blossoms (Hoa Dao)





According to Vietnamese legend, once upon a time, in the East of the Soc Son Mountain, North Vietnam, existed a gigantic peach tree. The tree was so huge that its shadow extended through out a large area of land. Up on the tree, lived two powerful deities, Tra and Uat Luy. They protected the people of the land in the surrounding areas from the devils. The devils were so afraid of these two deities that even the sight of the peach tree haunted them.

However, at the end of every lunar year, these two deities had to fly back to heaven for an annual meeting with the Jade Emperor. During this time, the devils took advantage of this opportunity to harass the peaceful inhabitants. To fight the battle against these devils, people came up with the ideas of display a branch of the Peach tree in the house to scare away the devils. Since then it becomes a custom of the North Vietnamese to have a branch of a Peach tree during Tet season to protect themselves against the Satan soldiers. Those who don't have Peach tree can draw the figures of the two deities, Tra and Uat Luy, on red paper, and display them in front of the house.

Today, I went to flower markets which existe right on the ancient streets such as Hang Luoc, Hang Dau in Hoan Kiem district. People begin to sell and buy peach blossoms

A bicycle with peach blossoms



In peach blossoms field, Nhat Tan peach trees are ready for Tet decoration (next year, the peach blossom field in Nhat Tan - Tay Ho district of Hanoi - is going to be destroyed to construct modern apartment blocks - I really feel disapointed with such a hasty decision!)
 
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