Traditional Tet celebrations in ancient Hoi An


Traditional culture and modern lifestyle have created a particular character for Hoi An on Tet holiday. Experience the distinction of the ancient town with a homestay “Celebrating Tet holiday with Hoi An”, which have has attracted a large number of visitors.

From a fairy tale

 “Celebrating Tet holiday with Hoi An” homestay tour is held annually in Vuon Trau (Betel Garden), by Thanh Nam fishing village, which features lush bamboo and green trees.  Starting from December 29th (lunar month), visitors and their homestay families decorate their houses and make traditional cakes for Tet such as Chung cake (square glutinous rice cake) or Tet cake (cylindric glutinous rice cake). They have the opportunity to understand Vietnamese traditional customs of Tet holiday.  On New Year’s Eve, while cooking Chung cake and Tet cake in sparkling candle lights, they listen to the story of betel and areca by Ms. Vo Thi Le, the owner of Vuon Trau, who prepares betel quid and  a piece of areca for red lips.

On the last day of the year (lunar month), the family has Chung cake or Tet cake for breakfast, and then makes pickled vegetables  and goes to the flower market to choose their favorite flowers for decorating their house before New Year. During the day, they have a party and make offerings to their ancestors.

On the first day of New Year (lunar month), visitors, dressing in traditional costumes with aodai and scarves will go to the pagoda and burn incense at houses of worship and the tombs of their ancestors.  In the afternoon, they visit relatives, friends, join in traditional games to wish for good luck in the new year, and then burn incense at some communal houses and pagodas in the ancient town.

Deborah and Michel Schafer, from Switzerland, recorded their impressions and feelings in the autograph book of Vuon Trau: “After 5 nights here, we found out that this place is very nice and the people here are very friendly.  At first, we intended to stay in only 2 nights, but they brought  us a cozy vacation on Tet and we didn’t want to leave!”.


To Chinese Tet holiday

Before Tet holiday, streets such as Tran Phu, Le Loi and Nguyen Thai Hoc, are brightly embellished with flowers and red parallel sentences in front of doors. Gates of worship houses are decorated with flags and Chinese words written on red paper, which is a message of Chinese people in Hoi An for a peaceful and prosperous new year when the spring comes.

Mr Thai Ke Nghiep, a Chinese man on Tran Phu street, said: “For more than 5 centuries, our ancestors have adapted local customs but also kept our traditional values. Red parallel sentences are indispensable in New Year and I am very happy that many families in Hoi An like this decoration”.

The ancient town is splendidly decorated with parallel sentences on pieces of red paper, which hold their owners’ wishes, such as the parallel scrolls including 4 words: “dinh tai luong vuong” (prosperity), “Xuat nhap binh an” (Good journey), “Ngu phuoc lam mon” and “Ngu phuoc tam da” (Five blessings (wealth, position, longevity, good health, security).  Inside the houses, many “fu” words (blessings) written in Chinese are pasted up side down and “man” are glued on wardrobes and jars of rice.

Mr Tran Van An – Deputy manager of the Center of Managing and Preserving the Hoi An ancient town said, “A Chinese community of 4000 people settled in Hoi An.  For over 5 centuries, on the second day of New Year, this community gathers to share their difficulties and hold their traditional games for both adults and children. Their activities attract a large number of participants.  Other communal houses such as Trieu Chau and Quang Dong also organize Thien Cau dances to wish for good weather and thriving business”.


New Year’s festivals

Hoi An hosts numerous festivals at the beginning of New Year. In the foggy morning, people join in Cau Bong festival of the traditional Tra Que vegetable village to wish for a bountiful season.

Festive flags of the village, hang highly, drums and gongs, ancient music, local people, who are dressed in ceremonial costumes and carrying trays of five fruits, walk along streets. Cakes and fruits, joss-sticks and flowers are arranged on the altars to pray in the festival. Tran Ke,  a farmer, said, “Offerings include a boiled cock with a flower in his mouth and a bamboo knife in his back, 5 dishes of steamed glutinous rice with 5 bright blooms and a cup of rice wine”. The festival creates an attraction for visitors with its vivid activities.

On Tet holiday, the ancient town is jubilant with a variety of folk games such as Bai Choi singing, pot breaking, ceramics making, folk songs or poem chanting.  Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of this landscape by tasting local cuisine along Hoai river.

Visitors can indulge in garlands and colored lanterns on the river while enjoying local cuisine and resounding traditional music. Visiting Hoi An, you will have a chance to taste an abundance of specialties such as dumpling, pork pies, cao lau (rice pancake with pork meat and shrimp), Quang’s noodle, luc tau xa (green bean sweet soup) glutinous rice cake, soya cake, green bean cake or special tea served by Hoai Pho’s ladies

 “This party is simple but luxurious and modern. Particular dishes and restaurants, which are distinctively decorated and served, or culinary customs contribute to make the ancient town unique to its guests in spring”, said Mr Vo Phung – Director of Center of Culture and Sports.


Source: Vntravellive