On 5th May (Lunar calendar), Vietnamese people annually held in celebration Tết Đoan Ngọ (aka Mid-year Festival), of which sometimes called Tết Đoan Dương.
“Đoan Ngọ” starts at midday (Đoan means start, Ngọ means midday), “Dương” often seen as the sun, as Yang. “Đoan Dương” can be understood as “starting when the Yang is at its best”
In Vietnam, Tết Đoan Dương sometime appeared under a name much more friendlier by local folks; Insect extermination Tết. This is one of the most meaningful and anticipating traditional gathering festival. Not only Vietnam but also China, South Korea, North Korea, practice Têt Đoan Ngọ. Hence, Tết Đoan Ngọ has its root in many South East Asian Lunar New year traditions, with the meaning of a harmonious circle of the weathers in one year.
Vietnamese Tết Đoan Ngọ’s Origin
After a harvest, the farmers were celebrating a successful season when the insect started to fill the crops and eating away all their harvested hard works. The people were clueless, didn’t know how to get rid of the nasty bugs when an old man from a far distant approached calling himself Đôi Truân.
He made ways for the local people, each family had to set up a small alter consisted of Bánh tro (Vietnamese sticky rice cakes), fruits, and the people themselves had to go out front and start to dancing and exercising.
The local folks did just that and after a while, the insect fell to their deaths. The old man said: “Insect are particularly vicious this time every year, if you do what I had told you to around the same time annually, they’ll be gone.”
The local people were so grateful and wanted to properly thanked the old man but he had already disappeared. In memory of this event, the folks named this occasion “Insect extermination Tết”, or some called “Tết Đoan Ngọ” since the event starts at midday.
With that being said, we can’t assume Tết Đoan Ngọ of Vietnamese’s people was taken from Chinese tradition, like most people has thought.
The meaning of Tết Đoan Ngọ
In Vietnam, Tết Đoan Ngọ has been “customized” to become a Tết day for insect sweeping and ancestors worshipping. The reason why Vietnamese people call Tết Đoan Ngọ “Insect extermination Tết” is that during the transition of season, weathers, diseases often spread. On this day, local folks will perform several traditional ways to prevent diseases.
Nowadays at some Vietnamese villages, the of custom Tết Đoan Ngọ is very much kept and performed. After Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán), “Insect extermination Tết ”is the second most gathering and warming traditional holiday, which tightens the bonds between Vietnamese,… so, it’s expected relatives, no matter how far they live, have to come back home for this special occasion.
Also in this time of year, fruits and flowers are blossoming, signaling another successful harvest; hence, fruits is a must have on every alter, along with some regional dishes depend on where it’s practiced.
After all the insects preventing performing methods, families gather around eating the offering fruits, rice wine, rice cakes,… to “chase away bugs”, prevent illnesses,…
Translated by Phuong Yen (source khoahoc.tv)