Wednesday, June 7, 2017

hoa xong

The Land of Traditional Festivals

The Vietnamese calendar contains many traditional festivals, some of which can be traced back several thousand years. Some festivals are being revived after years of neglect, and others have been celebrated all along.


The traditional festivals still hearken back to the days of hardship, and tell the tales of the people's struggles against unforgiving weather, uncertain rainfalls and other natural phenomena linked to farming.

Some festivals are celebrated nationwide, like Tet and the Mid Autumn Festival; others are highly specialized and are only celebrated in one village, or cluster of villages, in a certain province.

The use of Communal houses are usually incorporated into these festivities, and singing and traditional dances are performed. Each festival consists of ritual and fun; the first bowing to tradition, and the second following everyone's need to relax and enjoy themselves.

In the Red River Delta, where Vietnamese culture began, most festivals here take place in Spring and Autumn, coinciding with the planting of new crops and harvests of mature ones. Many of these festivals include the use of water, a life giving force necessary for people who rely on rice for food, and the festivities themselves are performed in the hope the new year will be bountiful.

The largest and most important of the Spring festivals is Tet, the Lunar New Year, where everyone gets a year older and when all debts and scores are settled. It stops practically everything in Vietnam at this time, especially during the preparation and the three main days where visits are paid to family, teachers and friends.

Common festivals in Spring time include the Dong Ky firecracker festival, the Ha Loi Festival (that honors the two Trung sisters) The Huong Pagoda festival, in Ha Tay province.

The summer months are quiet, but the festivals begin to increase as Autumn approaches. The Mid Autumn Festival is the largest one. It's also a big holiday for children, who eat special cakes and paper lanterns lit up with candles.

Other festivals include the Kiep Bac Temple Festival, in honor of General Tran Quoc Tuan who defeated the Mongol invaders and was made a saint.

The end of the Lunar New Year is quiet when it comes to festivals, because the country is gearing up for Tet. Several still take place however, including the Trung Do festival, that commemorates the rebellion leader, Ly Bon. Games of 'phet' are enjoyed during this festival, held in the province of Ha Tay.

CALENDAR OF MOST POPULAR FESTIVALS

JANUARY

THE LIM FESTIVAL (Tu Son district, Bac Ninh province).
Held each year from the 13th to l5th of January to honour Hieu Trung Hoa, the founding father of the "Quan Ho" Vietnamese singing custom that consists of of male and female singing teams. These groups perform during this festival, and numerous ceremonies, including a weaving contest and wrestling contests take place.

FEBRUARY

THE DONG NHAN FESTIVAL (Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi)
The two Trung sisters are honored between the 3rd to 6th of February with a festival that involves the bringing of water to bathe their statues and reclothe them. This takes place each year.

HUONG PAGODA FESTIVAL (My Duc district, Ha Tay province)
This pagoda worships the Bodhisatva and from January until the end of the Spring season, religious devotees take part in ceremonies and pay visits to beauty spots near the pagoda.

MARCH

FESTIVAL OF HOA LU TEMPLE (Ninh Binh province)
This festival is held between the 8th and the 10th of the Third Lunar Month, to commemorate the Kings who both reunified their country and defeated foreign invaders. The activities include presenting the joss-sticks at the pagoda, a re enacted battle with red flags, and a display of Chinese character figures.

GIONG FESTIVAL (Gia Lam district, Hanoi)
The Festival is held on April 9, to commemorate the Giong Genius, a here of legendary status that defeated An invaders. It includes a solemn procession of the Commander's Flag and a simulated battle against the An forces.

MAY

WHALE FESTIVAL IN NHA TRANG (Khanh Hoa Province)
In Nha Trang, a a large community of fishermen worship the whale for its tranquil and relaxed nature, believing it to be beneficial to their health and safety when storms or typhoons hit the central coast. The festival lasts for two days and involves a procession from the Whale Temple to the sea, where foods (never seafoods) are offered to the Whale God.

AUGUST

THE MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL
This Fesival falls on the15th day of the seventh lunar month to remember all those dead relatives. The Mid Autumn festival is when lost souls are given food and new clothes.

KIEP BAC FESTIVAL (Hung Dao Commune in the Northern province of Hai Duong)
The festival lasts from the 15th to the 20th day of the eighth lunar month. Numerous traditional games and festivities are performed to honor General Tran Quoc Tuan, the man who helped defeat the Mongol invaders (on three separate occasions).

SEPTEMBER

THE KEO PAGODA FESTIVAL (Giao Thuy, Nam Ha province)
This Festival is held between the 12th and 15th of the Lunar month of September and commemorates Khong Lo, a Buddhist monk. He possessed several supernatural powers that included the ability to harness rivers, convert marshes to dry land, and he was able to destroy devils that were persecuting farmers and fishermen.

OCTOBER

NGO BOAT RACES (Soc Trang, Hau Giang province)
This Festival is held on October 15, and is part of the Moon worshipping ceremony of the Khmers who live in the Mekong Delta. A boat race takes place, using large wooden 'Ngo" boats, specially shaped ones that are curved at both ends.

DECEMBER

TET THE LUNAR NEW YEAR
Tet, the Lunar New Year, falls on the first day of January of the lunar calendar, and is a different date each year when converted to the Western, or solar, calendar. For Vietnamese it's the most important holiday of the year, and staying with family is important at this time, as is visiting family graves. People's homes get cleaned and are painted with fresh paint, and get decorated with branches of peach blossom and bright orange kumquat trees.

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