VIETNAMESE LUNAR NEW YEAR Festival  in the background of VIETNAMESE SOCIETY at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century

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Hung Nguyen Manh
Associate Professor, Doctor of History

    The Vietnamese people, from time immemorial, with the wet rice civilization, have many traditional celebrations and folk festivals full of significance and joy. They include the new rice festival held at the end of the summer spring crop to the hunting rite, the end-of-spring and beginning-of-summer festivals such as the first month rain and insects killing festivals… They are a series of ritual days. Particularly, to bid farewell to winter, the Vietnamese ancestors celebrated a grand Festival or Lunar New Year Festival. Besides, there were the festival in the middle of the 1st month the Buddhist festival in the middle of the seventh month and the mid- Autumn Festival for children (all according to Lunar calendar)… According to traditional practices, the ancestral worshipping rites will fall on the 3rd day of the third month (in spring), the 5th day of the fifth month (in summer), the 9th day of the ninth month (in autumn) and the 22nd day of the twelfth month (winter solstice). All these calculations are based on the changes of weather in the year and on Eastern agricultural calendar. Each rite and festival has its own source and on these traditional ritual and festival days the Vietnamese people have held services, big or small, in one locality or in the whole country.

    Regarding Vietnam’s Lunar New Year celebration and traditional Festivals, Henri Oger has supplied us with vivid on the spot drawings on the customs and practices in a past period of history, the colonial semi-feudalist stage, most of which are no longer a part of present-day Vietnamese society.

Table of contents

1.0 LUNAR NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
      (Major  festival)

1.1 CONCERNS OF PROVIDENT PEOPLE

1.1.1 Concerns for chicken and cakes

1.1.2 Concerns for marketing

1.1.3 Concerns for ties gratitude

1.1.4 Concerns for debt payment

1.1.5 In Southern part of the country: A host of parallel concerns

1.2 THE ARRIVAL OF NEW YEAR

1.2.1 Knife and chopping-board are ratting

1.2.2 Rearrangement of furniture  and cleaning-up of the house

1.2.3 Cleaning the altar

1.3 THE TRAY OF FIVE FRUITS

1.3.1 Both nature  and human present

1.3.2 The five fruits tray and incense and smoke at Tết

1.3.3 Southerners have a pair of water melons

1.4 ANCESTRAL  ALTAR

1.4.1 The objects displayed

1.4.2  The negative of this living world

1.5 SPRING  SCROLLS

1.5.1 Elder Confucian on Lunar New Year Festival

1.5.2 Neighbouring friends

1.5.3 Red Scrolls – An Eastern literary genre

1.5.4 THE PARALLEL SENTENCES – At the time the French first came to South Vietnam,  called at that time Cochin CHINA.

1.5.5 Some anecdotes

1.6 THE FOLK-PAINTING

1.6.1 Subject matter of paintings

1.6.2 Signification of the paintings

1.6.3 Prosperity and wealth

1.6.4 Primitive beliefs

1.6.5 The Dragon Genius appears

1.6.6  Scenes  of  life drawn  on  paper

1.6.7 Let he be praised who makes coconuts

1.6.8  Fishing, wood-cutting,ploughing  and  breeding

1.6.9 Origin of Vietnamese Teát paintings

1.6.10  Tết images of nowadays

1.7  FINE CLOTHING

1.7.1  Fashion

1.7.2 Infatuation with the West  – Industry of marrying the Frenchmen

1.8 TO MAKE ONE’S SKIN SWEET

1.8.1 Scent  from field weeds

1.8.2 To get rid of dust

1.9 THE CULT OF THE DEITIES OF THE  KITCHEN

1.9.1 Two men married to one woman

        – The Kitchen God’s petition

1.9.2 Throwing oneself into the fire

1.9.3 The genius of the earth in the south

1.9.4 The genius of the earth and the Emperor of Jade

1.9.5 Replacing the king of the kitchen

1.9.6 Offending the Genius of the earth

        – Invocation read on 23rd of the last lunar month

1.10 TOMB -TENDING

1.11 ERECTING TẾT POLES AND EATING SWEET BEAN SOUP

1.11.1  Tết pole

1.11.2 Peach amulet

1.11.3 The miraculous monk’s robe

1.12 APRICOT – PEACH – MARIGOLD

1.12.1 Why the branch of peach blossom and the narcissus  are still used for decorating people’s houses at Tết?

1.12.2 Legend of  the narcissus

1.12.3  Little talk with flowers

1.13 CAKE

1.13.1 Why “bánh chưng” (square glutinous rice pudding) is an extremely  necessary dish  on Tết days?

1.13.2  Green wrapped cakes

1.13.3 Inspiration by a genius

1.14 JAM  AND SWEETMEATS

1.14.1 From fruit

1.14.2 From the pagoda

1.15  PICKLED SHALLOTS AND SCALLIONS

1.16 WAITING FOR THE NEW YEAR

1.16.1 Waiting for the new year

1.16.2 Ants  and  devils

1.16.3 The last images

– INVOCATION  ON – The occasion of the year end ceremony on the 30th of the last lunar month (New year’s eve)

Invocation on The occasion of the ceremony for seeing the old year out (Ceremony celebrated about 10 minutes before the New Year’s Eve)

1.16.4  A band  of  dice – shakers

1.16.5 The sacred minutes

1.16.6 The night of power transfer

1.16.7 Why do people fire crackers at Tết time?

1.16.8 Sơn Thảo devil

– Invocation on The New Year’s Eve (At exactly midnight on the 30th of the 12th lune month)

1.16.9 Tết firecrakers

1.16.10 “Lói” firecrackers (Deafening firecrackers)

1.17 AT THE THRESHOLD  OF THE NEW YEAR

1.17.1 Rituals at the pagoda  and  presents from divinities

1.17.2 Why do the Vietnamse go to pagodas to pluck a branch of tree (symbolizing blessings in the New Year) at Teát time?

     a) Asking for “höông loäc” (joss stick symbolizing blessings)

     b)The custom of buying the sugar cane joss gift

     c) Snatching the “piece of earth, symbol of blessings”

1.17.3 Resting hut

1.17.4 Tolerance

1.18 THREE DAYS OF TẾT

1.18.1 Way to get the best of circumstances

1.18.2 Looking for the first visitor

1.18.3 The water-carrier comes

1.18.4 When the distinguished guest appears

1.18.5  Ingenuous customs

1.19 IN THE MORNING OF LUNAR NEW YEAR DAY

1.19.1 Freeing birds and fish

1.19.2 Children go to play

1.19.3 Don’t throw away the trash

1.19.4 Celebrating  one’s  ancestors

1.20 FROM MYTHS

1.20.1 The  unicorn

Unicorn’s dance

1.20.2 Happiness, Wealth, Longevity

1.20.3 Quan Vũ (Person of high sense of  uprightness)

1.21 FROM  TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS

1.21.1 The cult of ancestors

– Ivocation on the second day of Tết

1.21.2 The custom of  burning incense

1.21.3 Beliefs concerning the sacredness of  things

1.22 GOING  FOR TẾT  CEREMONIES

1.22.1 Ceremonies on paternal and maternal sides, at the teacher’s

1.22.2 Ambassadors pay  their homage to Lord Trònh

1.22.3 Ceremonies at other people’s houses

1.22.4 Water-melon seeds on Teát days

1.22.5 Ceremony to wish elderly  persons longevity

1.23 SENDING  OFF  ONE’S  ANCESTORS

1.23.1  Sending  off  one’s  ancestors

– Invocation on the occasion of the third day of Tết

1.23.2 Burning votive paper money

1.23.3  Fish soup

– Invocation on the occasion of the fourth day of Tết

1.23.4 Grave visiting early in Spring

1.23.5 The custom of hunting  moor-hens

1.24 BEFORE TOUCHING THE EARTH

1.24.1 Mind the Genius of  the earth

1.24.2 The rite to begin working the fields

1.24.3 Various wet rice farmers’ holidays and festivals

1.24.4 Mountain inaugurating ceremony

1.24.5 Ceremony to pray for a  successful fish-catching season

1.24.6 Ceremony to pray for spring-likeness

1.25 BEFORE BEGINNING TO WORK

1.25.1 The rite to bring down the Teát pole

– The Tết with  Trần Tế Xương

– Paying the last honours to“ Cô Kí”  (The clerk’s wife) on the second day of Tết

1.25.2  The rite  to begin writing

1.25.3 The rite to begin using seal

1.25.4 The public crier also has a rite to begin using his rattle

1.26 THE CUSTOM OF RECELEBRATING TẾT

a) Green tree Tết

b) Recelebration on the 10th of the first lunar month

c) Recelebration on the 5th of the first lunar month

d) Celebrating of Tết together  on the 30th

1.27 OTHER WAY AND CUSTOM

a) Worshipping “Mr. Ràm”

b) “Our family’ll have an additional member”

c) The taboos

d) Searching for old documents

SEE ALSO:
◊  Tết Cả người An Nam (Vietnamese)

BAN TU THU
11 /2019

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