Lecture: Tết Lunar New Year Traditions – The Kitchen God (Ông Táo)

Our annual welcome to the lunar new year

Governed by tradition, taboos and legends, Tết Nguyên Đán welcomes the Lunar New Year and spring’s arrival.  It is Vietnam’s most important festival and public holiday.  The lunar and solar calendars are linked in Vietnam.  The former dictates the observance of festivals and rituals according to cycles of the moon. Hence, Tết dates are not fixed. The New Year starts on the first night of the first moon of the first month of the lunar calendar.

Also known as The ‘Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’, it is when the new and good replace old and bad elements.  People turn one year older as traditionally the New Year determines one’s age. Custom dictates actions and thoughts at the start of the lunar New Year influence one’s fate and prosperity for the coming 12 months.  Also high on the agenda are family reunions and paying respect to the ancestors.

One of Tết’s most important ritual is that of The Kitchen God or Ông Táo which signals the start of the Tết preparations. Legend says each home has three kitchen gods overseeing the household’s affairs. On the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, each kitchen god (Ông Táo ) returns to the Jade Emperor, the King of Heaven, on the back of a carp fish. The kitchen gods report back to the Jade Emperor on each family’s affairs for that past year, returning on New Year’s Eve.  People clean their houses and offer sacrifices in order to aid the god’s journey and ensure a good report.

We are delighted to welcome our lecturer, Professor Lê Văn Lan, noted author, historian, archaeologist, television celebrity – basically a living legend in Vietnam – who will first explain the origins and rituals of Tết. We will then participate in sending the three kitchen gods, a new set of clothes (made of paper) which will be burnt as an offering to Ông Táo.  After the offering of new clothes, everyone will have a chance to release a live fish into West Lake ‘to carry your family’s report’. This would lead to the Red river, which leads to the ocean and then to the Jade Emperor. We will then return to learn about and experience a wide range of traditional Tết foods.

The presentation will include:

  • A snapshot summary about Tết (a huge topic)
  • the legend of the Kitchen God
  • move to the lake side to burn paper offerings and release fish on the lakeside
  • return to the function room to enjoy a traditional Tết buffet meal and interactive quick fire quiz with prizes
  • a chance to meet and chat with Vietnam’s legendary Professor

Venue:  The Hanoi Club Hotel, 76 Yen Phu street

Time:   6.30pm-9pm

Set donation: 250,000 VND pp,  180,000 vnd per student or children under 12 yrs.  Includes 1 free drinks voucher pp,  1 fish per person, quiz with prizes and a traditional Tết buffet). Additional drinks can be bought at the bar and paid for at the time

Maximum:   40

Contact:   John Reilly by emailing lefthanded2hanoi@yahoo.com.                      Please provide your mobile number when registering.

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FVH Bookclub

Our bookclub meetings started in February 2018, when Kirstin and Piu, two members of FVH, decided to try and gather English speaking readers (both foreigners and Vietnamese) in Hanoi. It is a spontaneous, informal group of
people meeting to have a chat on the experience of reading the book
of the month.

We meet monthly on a Monday evening
7pm-8.30pm
@ different  café venues in central Hanoi

for more information please contact Maria

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