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Feb 07, 2024 / 10:02

Exhibition shows Hanoians' tradition of preparing for Tet

The thematic exhibition "Old Tet in Hanoi" recalls the fine customs of celebrating the Lunar New Year in the capital city.

Hanoi Museum has opened an exhibition on Old Tet in Hanoi to remind people of the traditional celebration of the Lunar New Year.

The exhibition space is divided into different parts, including banh chung (square sticky rice cakes); erecting cay neu (Tet tree to ward off evil); the custom of displaying calligraphic works and Tet paintings; showing bonsai during Tet; fireworks and Tet market (past and present).

Duong Thi Kim Oanh, 64, told her story of preparing for the Lunar New Year at the exhibition. When she married the eldest son of a family in the Old Quarter, her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law taught her how to behave.

"I was taught that the tray of offerings for the ancestors at the Lunar New Year is very important. No one can taste any of the food on it before their ancestors. So when cooking, you are not allowed to taste it, but only judge the seasoning yourself. The most important dishes to offer are banh chung, boiled chicken, spring rolls, bamboo shoot soup, canh bong (dried pork skin soup cooked with vegetables)," she said.

Cultural researchers Bui Xuan Dinh (left) and Tran Doan Lam (middle) talk about the traditional celebration of the Lunar New Year. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Professor Bui Xuan Dinh said the traditional Tet lasts three days, but people have been carefully preparing for these days since the 12th month of the lunar calendar.

The journey to prepare for Tet involves a lot of work that must be meticulous and thoughtful and requires the participation of family members.

"The Lunar New Year celebration focuses on eating and drinking, so the elders call it 'an Tet or enjoying Tet'. The festival is a time to show wealth and prosperity. Some dishes are only available at Tet, such as banh chung, pickled onions, and thit dong (braised frozen pork). The pot of boiled banh chung is almost the highlight of Tet, it's something people wait for, it's the reason people are busy, and it's a chance for people to get together," Dinh said.

According to cultural researcher Tran Doan Lam, Tet is a process of innovation that follows Eastern philosophy. It is a time of transition from one season to another, from the old year to the new. At this time, people tend to review what they have done in the past year and express their wishes for the new year.

"These wishes are the driving force for people to live and work. Vietnamese people have a tradition of visiting friends and relatives and wishing each other good luck so that life will always develop in a positive direction," Lam said.

The exhibition will run until the Lunar New Year at the Hanoi Museum, Pham Hung Street, Hanoi.

Photos of the exhibition:

An altar is arranged traditionally, with flowers and five varieties of fruit, representing the five elements of life. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
 The exhibition recalls the tradition of preparing for Tet in Hanoi. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
 Old-fashioned living room interior. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
A visitor takes a photo in the traditional Hanoi Tet room. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
An exhibition corner for banh chung, the traditional food for TetPhoto: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
 Visitors are keen to take photos in the space of traditional TetPhoto: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times