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Tet 2017

Tet Holiday in the Central Vietnam

If people in the North welcome a new spring and say goodbye to the winter with peach blossoms, Banh Chung (Square Sticky Rice Cake), fatty meat, pickled onions…, the Central Vietnam celebrates the new spring warmly and eagerly with the fragrance of Banh Tet (rice cake with pork belly and mung bean), Nem Chua (a meat roll with a sweet, sour, salty and spicy taste which makes the mouth salivate with each bite), pork meat soaked in vinegar and a golden branch of apricot.

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The Central region is the place where the life of people is hardest and poorest in compared with other lives in two regions of the South and the North due to the harsh climate. This is proved by the fact that in this region, people have suffered from floods or droughts…However, on the occasion of Tet Holiday, similar to all places in the whole country, people living here in the well being or the poverty still celebrate warmly Tet Holiday in their own way. If the Northern people welcome the new spring with peach blossoms, Banh Chung (steamed square cake), red couplets…, the Central people prepare Banh Tet, Nem Chua, a golden branch of apricot.

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In many years, the lives of people in the whole country in general and those in the Central region in particular has been improved dramatically when they have more fortunes and enjoy heathier lives. However, customs and traditions of people here are always presevered. For them, when the new lunar year comes, all family must have Banh Tet, Nem Chua, pork meat soaked in vinegar…People in the region haven’t also given any explanations for the presentation of these foods in this festivals as sympbols of Tet Holiday for a long time. They only know that these are traditions and customs passed away from this generation to other ones.

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In the previous years, rice was distributed by the number of people in one family in the poverty. At that time, people were hungry and poor so they had to prepare important things such as Dong leaf (a kind of leaf used to wrap Banh Chung), a few pounds of meat, some kilos of rice in about one month prior to Tet in order to cook the meals and set food offerings for the new year. Nowadays, rice, meat, fish, vegetables can be bought easily. However, on their ancestor worship altars in each family, there are always these traditional foods. This is not only a link to their ancestors from their generations of children and grandchildren but also a message associated with the hometown of each person.

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Especially in the Central region, perhaps people in Hue have the most sophisticated ways to process and prepare traditional dishes for worshiping their ancestors and welcoming their guests for this special festival. Because of the origin of an ancient capital, the cuisines in Hue are so very finical in processing and displaying meals in comparison with any other places. On the basic of the tradition of simple dishes in the whole central region, Tet meals in Hue still sound splendid thanks to the skillful hands of the women here. Banh Tet is wrapped in dark green leaf and shows the flavour of sticky rice when the rice is soaked in the water pressed from leaves of vegetable shrinkage; corn beef soaked in vinegar and fish sauce sliced in small pieces which look like fresh brown leaf eaten with sweet cucumbers. Especially in the meals of the people of Hue, Banh Tet, cumcumbers, corn beef soaked in vinegar…sare always served with a small cup of sour shrimps.

Just like in the North and the South, the Central people prepare for Tet from 20th Lunar December. At this time, the streets begin bustling, crowded with people who go shopping, the family atmosphere is hustle and funny to clean and decorate their houses. Tet is welcomed everywhere.

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On 23rd December (in the Lunar Calendar), if Northerners have the habit of releasing the gold fish for the Kitchen God to return to the heaven. The Central people do not worship the god fish because they believe the legend of the god fish turned into the dragon recorgized as a symbol of the kings. For this reason, they do not get this fish for Kitchen God. Accordingly, in the tray for the Kitchen God, people here usually have steamed glutinous rice, boiled pork and some fruits. Compared with the rituals of the Northern people, in the central region, these are much simpler. After the rituals, three Kitchen Gods will be renewed, and the old ones will be taken to and placed in a corner of temples or foots of long trees at the starting point of their village which are scared places and no one dares to get there.

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In the similar way of other parts of the country, people here will make a meal for saying goodbye to the old year and worshiping their ancestors on the 30th December in Lunar Calendar, then the whole family gather to eat meals in order to leave old things in this year and welcome the new year. In Central areas, depending on different circumstances, the tray will include pork meat, chicken, or both of these, stir-fries dishes, soups…But there is a difference in this tradittion between the North and the Central region. Offerings for New Year’s Eve must include a carpon in the North while in the Central areas, this meal for New Year’s Eve simply consists of some fruits and cakes, jams and tea. In the mind of people here, Eve’s tray has some items for a light day of the new year so they should receive something elevated and sweet…

Although residents in the Central region are not as fussy in the ritual worship of the ancestors, the heaven and the earth as those in the North, they don’t have as many their various dishes in Tet as in the North and the South, their customs, habits and traditions of the Central people are also very unique, attractive and contribute to the diversity of Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet Holiday) in Vietnam.
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Item Reviewed: Tet Holiday in the Central Vietnam Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nga Đỗ
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