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Vietnam Festivals

January and February are the most interesting festival months in the year, in Vietnam. Plenty of the festivals and special events would be organized throughout Vietnam.

LUNAR NEW YEAR ( TET ) 

Tet - Vietnamese and Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important Festival of Vietnamese people. This scared Festival sometime between late January or early February (depend on Lunar Calendar ) and Tet has become so familiar to the Vietnamese that when Spring arrives, the Vietnamese, wherever they may be, are all thrilled and excited with the advent of Tet, and they feel an immense nostalgia, wishing to come back to their homeland for a family reunion and a taste of the particular flavours of the Vietnamese festivities.. Although officially a three-day affair, festivities may continue for a week or more with every effort made to indulge in eating, drinking, and enjoyable social activities. It is also a time for family reunions, and for paying respect to ancestors and the elders. Gifts of food are made to friends, neighbors and relatives in the days before Tet.

The Tet of the New Year is, above all, is an opportunity for the household genies to meet, those who have helped during the year, namely the Craft Creator, the Land Genie and the Kitchen God. Tet is also an opportunity to invite and welcome deceased ancestors back for a family reunion with their descendants to join the family's Tet celebrations. Finally, Tet is a good opportunity for family members to meet. This custom has become sacred and secular and, therefore, no matter where they are or whatever the circumstances, family members find ways to come back to meet their loved ones, gather for a dinner of traditional foods like bánh chưng (a square cake made of sticky rice stuffed with beans and pork), măng (a soup of boiled bamboo shoots and flied pork) and xôi gấc (orange sticky rice). This is followed by a visit to the local pagodas.

Everyone is in a rush to get a haircut, buy new clothes, spruce up their homes, visit friends, settle outstanding debts, and stock up on traditional Tet delicacies. Businesses hang festive red banners which read "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" (Happy New Year) and city streets are fes­tooned. With colored lights. Stalls spring up all over town to sell mut (candied fruits and jams), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. Certain markets sell nothing but cone-shaped kumquat bushes. Others sell flowering peach trees, symbols of life and good fortune which people bring into their homes to celebrate the coming of spring. As vendors pour into the City with peach trees strapped to their bicycles, the streets look like moving pink forests.

The "Mam Ngu Qua"

The "five-fruit tray" on the ancestral altar during the Tet Holidays symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for a life of plenty. Legend said abot of theories but in a simpler way, the five fruits represent the quintessence that Heaven and Earth bless humans. This is one of the general perceptions of life of the Vietnamese, which is "When taking fruit, you should think of the grower".

Dao, Mai, Quat (the Peach, Apricot and Kumquat)

Coming to Vietnam during the season of the Tet festival, the visitor is engulfed in an ocean of colourful flowers. Visiting flower shows, contemplating the buds and blooms, and purchasing blossoms represents one of the distinct Vietnamese cultural characteristics. The peach ( in the North ) and the apricot blossoms (in the South) are symbols of the Vietnamese Tet. The warm pink of the peach could very well match the dry cold of the North, but the hot South seems to be flourishing in the riot of the yellow of the apricot. The mandarin is symbolic of good fortune and, therefore, people tend to choose the little plants laden with fruit, big and orange, and verdant leaves for a longer display.

The Giao Thua (New Year's eve)

The Giao Thua is the most sacred point of time, the passage from the old to the new year. It is popularly believed that in Heaven there are twelve Highnesses in charge of monitoring and controlling the affairs on earth, each of them taking charge of one year. The giao thua is the moment of seeing off the old chieftain upon the conclusion of his term and welcoming in the new one upon his assumption of office. For this reason, every home makes offerings in the open air to pray for a good new year.
After the giao thua is the start of the new year with many customs and practices, amusements and entertainment, all of a distinct Vietnamese folk culture. If you have an opportunity to visit Vietnam during the Tet Holidays and to welcome the Tet Festivities, together with the Vietnamese people, you will surely be profoundly impressed by the distinct traditional culture that is rich in national identity.

Food specialties for TET

On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, fried, boiled, or stewed dishes, meat, fish, vegetable... The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse What they have in common is that the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests.

Starting Dates in Western Calendar 3 Feb 2011, 23 Jan 2012

LIM FESTIVAL

The Lim Festival, organized in Lim village located 18 km from Hanoi, where Quan Ho, the special folk songs performed. It takes place every year on 13th day of the 1st lunar month. Tens of thousands of visitors come here to enjoy the dialogues performances between  "lien anh" (male singers) and "lien chi" (female singers), the country's most skilled Quan Ho singers. These are male and female farmers who sing different types of songs in the pagodas, on the hills, and in the boats. Besides this, visitors can come to the Lim Festival to enjoy the weaving competition of the Noi Due girls. They weave and sing Quan Ho songs at the same time. Like other religious festivals, the Lim Festival goes through all the ritual stages, from the procession to the worshipping ceremony, and includes other activities.

The Lim Festival is a special cultural activity in the North. The festival celebrates the "Quan Ho" folk song which has become a part of the national culture and a typical folk song that is well loved in the Red River Delta region.
The Lim Festival is also celebrated with traditional temple games. In one game, teenage girls must mind a stranger's baby, chew pieces of sugar cane in order to create fuel with which to start and maintain a fire, cook rice, and prevent a frog from jumping out of a circle marked on the ground. If the baby cries, the fire goes out or the frog escapes, the girl is disqualified.

Starting Dates in Western Calendar 26 Feb 2010, 15 Feb 2011, 4 Feb 2012

CAU NGU FESTIVAL

This festival of lower Thai Duong Village in Huong Hai Commune of Huong Dien District is organized annually on the 12th day of the 1st lunar month in memory of the village tutelary genie Truong Quy Cong. His alias is Truong Thieu, and he was a native of the North who came to the village to settle, teach the locals how to fish, and trade junks.

On the eve of the festival, the entire village begins making offerings. Both parts of the village, the upper and lower parts,worship to Truong Quy Cong. Late at night, the "fish worshipping ceremony " occurs, where people pray for peace and the future abundance of fish. Every three years, games representing sea fishing activities are organized, such as the "fish catching" game and "net-casting" game. After these games, people tend to go watch the rowing skiffs.
The "net-casting" performance is a form of entertainment that is characterized by rituals to commemorate the merits of the village tutelary genie.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 14 Feb 2011, 6 Feb 2012.

NUI BA FESTIVAL

If you go to Tay Ninh, you should visit Nui Ba, a beautiful mountain located in the middle of the Mekong Delta, 11km from downtown Tay Ninh.

Nui Ba (Ba Mountain) is often called Ms. Den Mountain. According to a legend, the mountain was named after a young woman called Denh, but who was referred to as Den. She was the devout daughter of a guard officer of the Mien ethnic minority group. Den left her house to enter a monastery in the mountains. She became a nun due to family pressure to marry a guard officer's son from the Trang Bang Area. She remained at the monastery until she died. After her death, the Nguyen Dynasty ordered that a mould of her be cast in black bronze in her honour as the Linh Son Thanh Mau ( Saint Linh Son).

During the spring until the afternoon of the 30th day of the 1st lunar month, and especially on the day of the full moon of the first month, tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of the south pilgrimage to worship and sightsee. Starting at the bottom of the mountain, tourists climb one half of the mountain to Saint Linh Son's communal house and then follow a path that leads to a pagoda. This pagoda offers vegetarian meals. Tourists can eat as much as they want, but should donate some money to the pagoda; the amount of the donation depending on the budget of the tourist.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 17 Feb 2011, 06 Feb 2012.

PERFUME PAGODA ( HUONG TICH) FESTIVAL

The Perfume Pagoda (Huong Tich), At My Duc, 69km south of Hanoi, without doubt, is the most famous Buddhist pilgrimage site in northern Vietnam. Hhundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel to this sacred cave to pray for happiness and prosperity in the coming year. pilgrims board boats, usually rowed by young women, which carry them along the Yen Stream through a stunning landscape of blazing green rice paddles studded with jagged limestone mounts to the base of Huong Mountain. From the riverbank, pilgrims proceed on foot, past various ancient pagodas, monasteries and shrines, up hundreds of stone steps and a switchback trail, all worn smooth by the passage of countless feet. The Perfume Pagoda consists of a group of caves and is an impressive architectural ensemble of both human and natural endeavor.
The Perfume Pagoda Festival lasts from the 6th day of the 1st month to the end of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar. Visitors can get tot the Perfume Pagoda either by the inland road or by water way. The Vietnamese believe that Huong Son is Buddha's Heaven. Huong Son is considered the place to worship Brodhisattva Kwan Yin. People conduct a dragon dance in the yard of Trinh Pagoda, and sail the royal barge on the 6th day of the 1st month. The festival is held in three places, Huong Tich, Tuyet Son, and Long Van. The festival is most crowded from the 15th - 20th day of the 2nd month of the lunar calendar as this period marks the main festival. The path leading from Ngoai Pagoda to Trong Pagoda is full of visitors coming up and down the mountain.

A pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda is not only for religious reasons, but also to see the numerous natural landscapes and the buildings that are valuable artifacts of the nation...
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Feb 08, 2012 Jan 28

COW RACING FESTIVAL

Each year on the last day of the Khmer calendar, the Khmer, an ethnic minority group living in the Mekong delta province of An n Giang, hold a festival to honor their ancestors. The festival begins with a visit to the pagoda, where Khmer families invite the souls of their ancestors to dine with the living. Should any visitors appear during the festival they will be warmly received since the Khmer believe that guests who arrive around New Year are messengers sent by their ancestors.
Following a visit to the pagoda people walk to the nearest stream or river where they tie the trunks of banana trees together to form rafts. Offerings are placed on these rafts, which are then pushed into the water to be swept away by the current.
These quiet ceremonies are sharp contrast to the highlight of the festival, a cow race. The racetrack, set in a muddy and slippery paddy field, is 120m long, with both the start and finish lines marked with red and green flags. Each race involves two pairs of cow, controlled by two young men. To further complicate their task, the teams must run in a straight line and will be disqualified for veering off course.
The races are both exciting and hilarious. People travel from miles for the show, bringing food and pots and pans for a picnic. Part rodeo, part race and part comedy, a Khmer cow race is an unforgettable spectacle.

HUNG TEMPLE FESTIVAL

Hung temple is located on Nghia Linh Mountain, Hy Lang Commune, Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province. Every year, this national festival is held to worship the Hung Kings, who were instrumental in founding the nation.

The festival lasts for 3 days from the 9th to the 11th of the 3rd lunar month. The worship service is held on the 10th day and commences with a flower ceremony with the participation of state representatives. Held in Thuong Temple, where the Hung Kings used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony consists of a lavish five-fruit feast. Cakes and glutinous rice dumpling are also served to remind people of the Lang Lieu Legend (the 18th Hung King who invented these cakes), and the merit of the Hung Kings who taught people to grow rice.

Next to the stage procession for deities, there are several marches in the procession, such as the elephant march followed by the procession chair. These procession marches are conducted in Tien Cuong, Hy Cuong, Phuong Giao, and Co Tich Villages. The procession marches are followed by a Xoan song performance (a classical type of song) in the Thuong Temple, "Ca Tru" (a kind of classical opera) in Ha temple, and other activities.

The Hung Temple Festival not only attracts visitors from all over and allows visitors to participate in special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred trip back in time to the origins of the Vietnamese culture. People usually show their love and pride of their homeland and ancestral land. This religious belief is deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originate.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Apr 12, 2012 Mar 31.

CHU DONG TU FESTIVAL

This festival occurs for three days from the 10th - 12th of the third lunar month in Chu Dong Tu Temple in Du Hoa Village, Chau Giang District, Hung Yen province, some 20 km from Hanoi.

Saint Chu Dong Tu was one of the "four immortal heroes" at the centre of Vietnamese society. Chu Dong Tu was a cultural hero and the founder of agriculture because he conquered the marsh and developed agriculture and trade. After the opening ceremony, there is a procession to remind people of the legend, life, and work of Saint Chu Dong Tu and his two wives.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Apr 12, 2012 Apr 31.

LE MAT SNAKE FESTIVAL

Le Mat Village belongs to the Viet Hung Commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi. The Le Mat Village Festival is held annually on the 23rd of the 3rd lunar month. In the early morning on the 23rd day of the 3rd month, representatives of the 13 camps to the west of the Ancient Capital of Thang Long carry 13 trays of food over their heads from the capital to the Le Mat Village.

At the beginning of the festival, water and carp processions are staged and brought to the Thanh Communal House. This ritual reminds the present generation of the heroic accomplishments of exploiting and bringing about agriculture to the village. A snake act is then performed in the yard of the communal house. The snake (made of bamboo taped with cloth) symbolizes the water-monster species that has been bitten by the power and will of youth. The music of this act is an octet and the sound of the drummer's double rhythm is haunting. The Le Mat Village Festival provides an opportunity for children in the village, and those who have reclaimed this ancient wasteland in the city, to meet and retell the history of the establishment of the village. The challenge and difficulty that was encountered in the establishment of the village is expressed in the sincere homage of the ancestors of the village.

In addition to the ceremony, the Le Mat people have a special talent for catching snakes. While attending the Le Mat Village Festival, guests are offered a cup of snake wine made from three or five snakes.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Apr 25, 2012 Apr 13.

WHALE FESTIVAL

The Whale Festival has been, for centuries, the biggest water festival of the fishermen in Quang Nam, Danang province. The worshipping of the whale is not only about paying respect to their God, but also about ensuring prosperity for the villagers. This festival last for two days in the middle of the 3rd lunar month. On this occasion, the whale temple, as well as all the houses and boats, are beautifully decorated. The peace offering is conducted in the first evening at the whale temple by village elders. Offerings, which do not contain seafoods, are given while the oration is read out. The ceremony is held to respect the Whale God and to pray for the safety and prosperity of the village.

At dawn the following day, there will be a procession of boats on the sea in a set formation. This procession displays the sincerity of fishermen to their Whale God. By midnight, the official ceremony is conducted as school children offer incense and the orchestra plays a classical opera. All the fishing boats and villagers, no matter where they are, will return to take part in the Whale Festival.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Apr 12, 2012 Apr 31.

ELEPHANT RACE FESTIVAL

This festival is held in the spring, around the 3rd month of the lunar calendar. It is usually held in Don Village or in forests near the Sevepoi River (Dac Lak). The race track is on even ground where there are only has a few big trees. The width of the track is large enough for 10 elephants to stand in a line at the same time and the length of the track runs 1-2 km.

With the signal of the horn (a wind instrument), the mahouts command their elephants to go to the starting line. When the command to start the race is released, all of the elephants rush ahead, excited by the sound of the drums, gongs, and cheering from the viewers. At the end of the race, the winning elephants lift their trunks above their heads to wave to the viewers. They walk deliberately flapping their ears gently, gazing through half-closed eyes to receive sugarcane from their viewers.

The elephant race is the biggest festival in the middle highland. It bears the martial spirit of the M'nong ethnic group, who are very famous for their bravery and skill in hunting wild elephants.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Apr 12, 2012 Mar 31.

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