Part 1: Traditional custom of Vietnamese ethnics on Tet holiday

Nga Do
Each ethnic minority group has its own festivals, customs, beliefs and farming practice. Tet festival lasts about half a month, during which time many exciting cultural and community activities take place. Following are traditional Tet festival customs of some ethnic minority groups in Vietnam including  Muong ethnic minority,  Tay ethnic minority, Cham people, Co Tu ethnic people, Dao ethnic minority, Nung ethnic minority, H’mong ethnic minority, Hre ethnic minority,Thai ethnic minority, San Chi ethnic minority and Ede ethnic minority.

1. Tay ethnic minority

The Tet festival of Tay ethnic people starts on the 30th of the last lunar month to the morning of the third day of the New Year. On the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, they go to work in field, but only as a formality. On the 15th day of the first lunar month, they celebrate Tet festival again.

Different from Thai ethnic people, Tay ethnic minority’s taboo is that a person who is not invited to come their home on the first day of the Lunar New Year. The first caller on New Year’s Day chosen is a virtuous person or a person well respected in the hamlet, and they especially refrain anyone in mourning. On the first day of the Lunar New Year, Tay ethnic men usually go to their parents-in-law to wish a Happy New Year and the third day of the New Year to wish magician. Some folk games are also played during the Tet such as con-ball throwing game. After the Tet, Tay ethnic group organize Long Tong festival, meaning going to the rice field.

2. Muong ethnic minority 

In term of sequence and customs, the Tet festival of Muong ethnic minority people is quite similar to the Tet Festival of Kinh people. There is a unique tradition of “sac bua” singing that is being preserved. This is a kind of singing to wish Happy New Year. 

On the first and second days of the first month of the Lunar New Year, Muong children gather together to beat gongs and sing “sac bua”. They go through any household, which opens its doors to give children some money or cake.The popular games during the New Year of the Nung ethnic minority are the “con” ball throwing game, shuttle cock kicking, duet singing between male and female, and traditional martial arts. Children usually play humming-top and lion dance.

3. Co Tu ethnic people

On the Lunar New Year festival of the Co Tu people, the crossbows, spears, broadsword, cymbal, drums and gongs are carefully cleaned. Many cultural activities take place in Guol house (communal house) such as telling stories, dancing, singing folk songs. Co Tu girls have chance to exchange feelings and invite each other to play spring for a month-long.

4. Dao ethnic minority

Festival of the Dao ethnic minority usually takes place in the first month of the lunar calendar, beginning a new year with good weather and a lush green harvest. This is a nice traditional culture of Dao people. Before the festival, Dao people usually prepare an altar. Altar column is made of four timbers, surrounded with bamboo. Inside the altar are three big round tubes, used as thuribles symbolizing sky, land and people. There is votive paper money in the censers. Space under of the alter is a bundle of sugar-cane to wish for sweet things.

At the festival, four youths wearing good clothes carry offerings on their heads to selected position from four different sides. Offering are boiled chicken, sticky cake, sweet cake and votive money paper. The offering tray must have male and female, so necessity has both cock and hen. The wizard reads aloud prayer for good weather, lush harvests, children’s successful study and happiness. At the end of the ceremony, the people together take part in festival activities with folk game such as tug of war, pushing stick, con throwing. For con throwing, Dao people believe that if someone successfully throws at the first round they shall have much good luck.

5. Cham people

Like other ethnic groups, the Cham ethnic people also celebrate their Tet sumptuously. They kill pigs, poultry and enjoy a variety of fruits and cakes. During the Lunar New Year Festival, the Cham ethnic group has no taboo so their friends and neighbours can share happiness with them easily. During the Tet festival, the Cham ethnic people also organize games such as fan-dancing, gong-beating, singing, drinking and archery.

The next section will continue to introduce other traditional custom of Vietnamese ethnics on Tet holiday, please also await.

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