When the Lunar New Year will kick-off?
People often think that the New Year will come after the last day of the previous year; however, it is not. Since Lunar Dec 23, each house is busy to prepare for the Kitchen God Farewell Ceremony. Vietnamese people traditionally will buy a full set of beautiful paper costumes for the house’s kitchen gods and goddess, 3 carps and prepare traditional food offering to them so that they would be able to fly up to the heaven and report all the things have happened during the current year. People believe that when they burn the paper costumes and release the carps into lake or river, their gods and goddess will get well dressed and fly up. This is happened annually and has been practiced for thousands of years. Also, from this day on, Vietnamese people will gradually do shopping for the New Year Holiday. Since they not yet officially on the holiday, each day Vietnamese people will shop for one or a couple of new stuffs such as house decorations, new clothes, candies, etc.
What do Vietnamese practice during this special occasion?
When the year is going to end in one or two days, Vietnamese will make the Chung Cake (often made in square shape in northern region, and long rounded shape in the central and the southern regions). Main ingredients for this are: Green Rong leaves, steamed green bean, sticky rices soaked in water a few hours in advance, fresh pork with blacked pepper.
Not all people are aptly enough to be able to make this cake. Fortunately, beside traditional wrapping way, they invent a square frame and the wrapping becomes easier.
Orderly, after layering the green leaves, we will scale a moderate sticky rice layer, then put on it some green bean, next some pieces of pork, again another layer of green bean then the last layer of sticky rice. All then will be wrapped up skillfully that when we cut the cake, we will each layer separated from each other.
Finish wrapping the cakes, Vietnamese people have to boil it for roughly 8 hours, more or less will depends on the quantity. The farmers have to work daily, then they will do the boiling at night to save their time. They need at least one person keep an eye on the cooker and the fire to add the water time to time and assure to provide the moderate fire.
Children are excited to play around and find some sweet potato and corn to grill and enjoy on spot.
A late afternoon of the Lunar Dec 30 – last afternoon of the year!
Vietnamese people all together will reach the village’s cemetery to clean the grave of their ancestors then invite them to go home and enjoy the New Year holiday with family.
This picture is not the cemetery but capture just a few isolated graves in the middle of a rice field. Yes, some family avoid moving their ancestors’ graves because they are afraid that this move will cause bad influences on their fortune and development. So, they just cross the field somehow for the ceremony.
The sacred transition moment
It’s the most sacred moment – the transition from one year to the other. The elders women in the house or the elders daughter-in-law will be in charged. Normally, the mother-in-law will teach her daughter-in-law all the ritual and let her continue her responsibilities when she is too old to do that.
This is also a reason why Vietnamese families are desperate for at least a son.
At this moment, the host will be prepared lot of food to offer to their ancestors, burn the incense sticks and they solemnly pray to the ancestors for their granted protections, good health, wealth and also wish them a happy new year.
In the meantime, others could be outside to see the firework display, or watch TV and hear the live congratulation from the national president from presidential palace.
Here is a typical tray of Vietnamese traditional dishes, including square Chung cake, deep fried spring roll, stirred vegetable, pickle onions, soup, rice vermicelli soup, fish sauce, minced pork rounded cake and a whole boiled chicken.
People will prepare almost similar dishes and offer to the ancestors every day during the new year.
The first thing to do when wake up is having breakfast together of the traditional dishes.
Vietnamese then will give each other lucky money along with best wishes. They will smile, have positive talks, be kind to each other and put on new dresses.
The family then will together get to the pagoda and pray for a peaceful and wealthy year. Afterwards, people will visit their relatives to say the congratulation and review about the recent year then talk about the plans of upcoming year. These visits often done in the first, the second and the third days of the year. People say that the first day will be spent for the husband’s relative, the second day will be spent to visit the wife’s relative and the third day will be for the students to pay a visit to their teachers.
In many modern cities, people tend to optimize the new year and spend their time to travel together. However, Vietnamese people mainly focus on family reunion and show respect to their ancestors.
When the New Year Occasion comes to the end, Vietnamese will bring all the paper money that they had bought for their ancestors and burn them all after preparing the last meal with all the traditional dishes. They farewell their ancestors and sending them money by burning all up for their spend in next year.
After this farewell, people will get back to work, farmers will begin a new rice crop and kick off the new year with excitement.
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