HUNG NGUYEN MANH1
… be continued for section 1:
Burning votive paper money
In the afternoon of the third day of Teát, after the last meal, the ancestors are sent off. All the votive paper money bought by the family head and brought in by his brothers, sisters and cousins is burnt.
Besides a meal and cakes, all remaining rice and money are brought to the altar for the sending-off ceremony. The rice is contained in a basket with the money on top of its the basket is then shifted over the burning votive paper money as a symbolic act of transferring money to the dead.
When the votive paper money is nearly burnt away, a little alcohol is poured on the ashes in the belief that this would turn the votive paper money into real gold in the world beyond.
After that, the two sugar-canes put on both sides of the altar are dried over the ashes – the ancestors would use them to carry the gold to the netherworld and as weapons against devils trying to rob the gold.
Some people carefully choose a propitious day or a day not incompatible with the house-owner’s age to burn the votive paper money, so that it may be done a day sooner or a day later.
Other idle people prolong the worship for several more days to show their attachment to their forefathers. In some places – like in Huế – while sending off their ancestors people cut votive paper money into small bits (each size 3 or 4cm) which they paste on their furniture (cupboards, tables, hairs, truck…) alternating one bit of “silver” with one of “gold” after bowing twice. Then they go to the orchard and paste them on fruittrees.
This is called a Tết ceremony for the house and the orchard.
In the South most people send off their ancestors on the fourth day of the first month. This is called ceremony to the earth. Why? Perhaps because life is easy so that they don’t hurry to send off their ancestors on the third day like in the North. People cut the votive paper money into squares to paste on door sides, cupboards, tables and display on the altar a pot of fish soup (the fish is not chopped and the lid is not put on the pot). Fish soup is eaten with fresh salad and bitter banana slices to digest the fatty meat and pickled shallots. On this occasion the custom is to have women carry cakes and sweetmeats to send off ancestors to their graves. Rich people make their servants carry them on their behalf. Later on, people began to think that their forefathers stay on the altar, so that the custom is gradually abandoned. However, the custom of welcoming ancestors still remains.
After the three days of Tết, well-to-do people hold a Tết ceremony for their buffaloes. They prepare cakes, cook sweet soup as offerings to the genius guarding their beasts. Then the cakes are foisted on the buffaloes or mixed with the grass they eat; otherwise, the cakes are hung from their horns. In Mường region, a mat is laid in front of buffalo or ox pens on which are placed offerings to thank the beasts for having helped farming in the past year and to ask them to go on like that in the coming year.
The occasion of the forth day of Tết (Worshipping ceremony to burn votice offerings)
WE BEG TO RESPECTFULLY ANNOUNCE:
To our paternal family: Our ancestors, greatgreat grandfather, great-grandfather, grandfather, father.
To our maternal family: Our ancestors, greatgreat grandmother, greatgrandmother, grandmother, mother.
BEFORE YOUR TABLETS, WE BEG TO RESPECTFULLY INFORM YOU THAT:
Today is the fourth day of Tết, and we’re celebrating the ceremony to burn the votice offerings; today is also the day to inaugurate the holiday season, we beg to sincerely present you with offerings such as fruits and flowers, betel and alcohol, candles, incense sticks, votice gold and silver, hoping that you’ll enjoy them and bless our whole family, young as well as old people, with much health and peace, much progress in their studies and much prosperity in their businesses throughout the year.
We repectfully request our paternal and maternal ancestors, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters to enjoy the offerings.
We also respectfully invite our Genius of the Hearth and our Kitchen God to join our ancestors in the enjoyment.
WITH OUR RESPECTS
The custom of Hungting Moor-Hens
Let’s come back to a common custom in the farming life of village people. We mean the one of hunting moor-hens that takes place every year either on the 3rd or the 5th Tết day. This custom is different with the “Hunting Tết” which is the last Tết in the year. On the above-mentioned days after the transplantation is over – people at Yên Đỗ Village (Ý Yên District, Hà Nam) organize ebulliently the hunting of moorhens (Fig.4) – a type of bird that used to trouble the ricefields – especially when the rice is still freshly young. Moreover, Yên Đỗ is a large village with 10hamlets-with spacious land and a lot of ricefields, therefore, the moor-hens can feed on as much paddy as they like.
Since very early in the morning, all the villagers except for women and children who stay home to keep the house rush to the communal house. When the gongs and drums resound, people shout deafeningly in reply. Then, everybody rush to the field like a strong and well-organized army. Marching ahead and bringing up the rear are the strong young men, while the village elders walk amid them. People strike the gongs, beat big and small drums while shouting, causing a stir i n the region. The panic-stricken moor-hens run everywhere, some rush headlong into a bamboo grove, some others creep into the grass to hide, but none of them could escape the hands of strong young men who surround them.
The village would define a rate of reward in cash or with things, depending on the amount of caught moor-hens. The moor-hens hunting custom is very common in areas harassed by moor-hens such as Phú Thọ, Thanh Hoá (villages of Định Tường, Yên Định)3.
… continue in section 3…
1 Associate Professor HUNG NGUYEN MANH, Doctor of Phylosophy in History.
2 J.B. TISSANIER – Accounts of travel from France to Kingdom of Tonkin, Ibid, pp 121 – 146.
3 According to LÊ TRUNG VŨ – The traditional Tết of the Vietnamese – Quoted book.
4 According to HOÀNG THẾ MỸ – ĐỖ HOÀNG DUYÊN – Invocations on Tết days and on the occasions of Tết and death anniversaries.
BAN TU THU
◊ Source: Vietnamese Lunar New Year – Major Festival – Asso. Prof. HUNG NGUYEN MANH, Doctor of Phylosophy in History.
◊ Bold text and sepia images has been set by Ban Tu Thu – thanhdiavietnamhoc.com
◊ From Sketches in early 20th century to traditional rituals and festival.
◊ Signification of the term “Tết”
◊ Lunar New Year Festival
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for KITCHEN and CAKES
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for MARKETING – Section 1
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for MARKETING – Section 2
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for Dept payment
◊ In SOUTHERN PART of the COUNTRY: a HOST of PARALLEL CONCERNS
◊ The tray of Five fruits
◊ The Arrival of New Year
◊ SPRING SCROLLS – Section 1
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 1
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 2
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 3
◊ Waiting for the NEW YEAR – Section 1
◊ Paying the last honours to CÔ KÍ” (The clerk’s wife) on the second Day of TẾT
◊ Before BEGINNING to WORK – Section 1
◊ Going for TẾT Ceremonies – Section 1
◊ Going for TẾT Ceremonies – Section 3
◊ Vietnam Lunar New Year – vi-VersiGoo