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Feb 19, 2024 / 05:16

Pen-brush opening ceremony: Vietnam's tradition honors learning

The nation’s most hobble teacher believed that no country could develop disregarding education.

Khai but” or pen-brush opening ceremony, a Vietnamese custom of starting a piece of calligraphy or drawing to celebrate the New Year, has been kicked off in different parts of Vietnam to honor the tradition of education. 

 Leaders of Hanoi attend Khai but ceremony on February 16. Photo: VGP

This year, as usual, Hanoi launched the ceremony to promote the quintessence of the country’s education and to honor Chu Van An, the greatest teacher of the nation known for his profound knowledge and upright personality.

The ceremony was attended by top leaders of Hanoi, including Vice Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Nguyen Thi Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Manh Quyen, Vice Chairwoman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Vu Thu Ha.

The Khai but ceremony, which was launched at a temple worshiping Chu Van An in Thanh Tri District, Hanoi, is a solemn activity demonstrating Vietnam’s culture in honoring education and signaling a year full of Vietnamese traditional features.

Chu Van An, born in 1292-1370 in what is now Thanh Tri District, Hanoi, is honored as the most outstanding scholar of Vietnam, the noblest teacher of the nation, a bright star in the Vietnamese culture, and the educator who made valuable contributions to the nation’s education for generations.

He is revered in many parts of Vietnam, including in Van Mieu–Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature), the oldest university in Vietnam, located in Hanoi.

Legend has it that Chu Van An said: “I have never heard of any country that develops disregarding education.”

Chu Van An’s brilliant mind made it abundantly evident how crucial education is to the development or downfall of any nation. He introduced Confucianism to the nation in its entirety with the teachings of “first learn rituals, then learn literature.” This approach honored the spirit of education and made it possible to learn authority, discipline, and morality without fear or concern for fame or gain.

Such Khai but tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. For children and adults alike, this custom is upheld every new year when the first moments of the year begin, people make some piece of writing, which could be a poem or an expression.

In another move, students come to honorable temples to ask for calligraphy to wish for success in learning and exams.