Year round festivals
Lunar New Year, TET Holidays
There is no more colorful time to be in Vietnam than during the days leading up to the Lunar New year ( known as “Tet Nguyen Dan” or “Tet”), the most important as well as the most widely and heartily celebrated traditional festival in Vietnam. Since the first days of lunar year are thought to set the tone for the next 12 months, everyone strives to plan a perfect Tet.
As preparation for the TET is completed and houses are well-stocked with food and sweets, families get together to share an evening meal on the last day of the 12th lunar month. Food and drink is offered to the family’s ancestors and they are invited to join the family for the holiday. Before the family begins to eat, the family group will raise their glasses in the first toast to the New Year. Afterwards, it is customary to join the throngs of people in the streets to take in the local firework display.
The first few days of Tet are spent in relaxation with one’s family. Indeed, many shops and businesses are closed during this time. Spending time with family, paying visits to friends, relatives and neighbors and hearty meals for all those who drop by are hallmarks of this joyous time of year for Vietnamese people.
Located 18km from Hanoi, Lim village is the place where is well known for its impressive festivals. The most typical Lim Festival feature is Quan Ho singing. It is the well- organized Quan Ho folk song that attracts thousands of visitors to come here to enjoy singing competitions between the country’s most skilled “lien anh” (male singers) and “lien chi” (female singers). In addition, visitors come to enjoy the weaving competition of the Noi Due girls who 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 worshiping ceremony, and includes other activities.
Perfume Pagoda Festival
Marked at the most celebrated festival in the country, is held each February at the Perfume Pagoda, 70 km southwest of Hanoi. It is the most famous Buddhist pilgrimage site in the northern Vietnam and every year literally tens of thousands of pilgrims travel to the sacred cave to pray for happiness and prosperity for the coming year. Unlike many other festivals, the Huong Pagoda Festival does not only focus on traditional games, but rather romantic trips to caves, pagodas and temples and participation in ceremonies to beseech favors from Lord Buddha.
The excursion to the cave which is set high up in a limestone mountain makes all more interesting as visitors have to board small row boats and cruise through a dramatic landscape of rocky outcrops and lush rice paddies in order to reach the foot of the mountain. From the riverbank, visitors continue on foot, past various pagodas and shrines, up hundreds of stone steps, all worn smooth by the passage of time and countless feet.
Cow Racing Festival
The festival is celebrated in pagodas and Khmer households in An Giang Province in remembrance of ancestral merits, wishing happiness and peace for the deceased’s souls. In this festival, the ox racing which is held in a large ground 60 m wide and 170 m long surrounded by high earthen ramparts where spectators can stand. The racing lane is 100 m long and 4 m wide. Its two ends are marked with departure and destination poles. Each racing tournament involves 38 pairs of oxen selected from competition in commune level. Most of the oxen have strong postures: big heads, straight backs, solid bones, long tails, small ears, round necks and gentle eyes. The nearer the competition draws, the more boisterous the atmosphere becomes.
Hung temple festival
This is the ancestors’ death anniversary of the whole nation. Along with an incense-offering ceremony at the Hung Temple in Phu Tho Province, sacrifice-offering ceremonies at Hung Temples in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and other provinces take place. Not only does the Hung Temple Festival attract visitors from all over the country because of its special traditional cultural activities, but it is also regarded as a sacred trip to the origins of the Vietnamese nation. People usually show their love and pride for their homeland and ancestral land. This religious belief is deeply embedded in the mind of every Vietnamese citizen.