Sunday, December 29, 2013

NEW YEAR: Vietnamese Tet and the Kitchen Gods

We were lucky when we visited Vietnam a couple of years ago, it was Tet, the Lunar New Year. It was a privilege to witness the country preparing for this big holiday. There was a largess of food, flowers, trees with yellow blossoms, colorful decorations from Hanoi in the North all the way to Ho Chi Minh in the South. People traveled back to their ancestral homes. And those at home were busy scrubbing and cleaning every part of their houses.  The ancestors' altars were spruced up and fruit and incense offered there.

All of these activities had to do with getting rid of bad luck. The Vietnamese believe that the Kitchen god reports on their family to the Jade Emperor; they try to appease the Kitchen God to get a good report and earn good fortune and happiness for the new year.

There is another version that talks about three Kitchen gods: a woman, her former husband, and current husband. Apparently the woman had run away from her cruel husband, and she later found another husband.  The first husband became contrite and sought her out. The first husband was with the woman when the second husband showed up.  The first husband hid under a haycock, which unknowingly the second husband burned to cook his game.  The first husband was engulfed in flames but chose to be quiet so the woman would not be compromised. Saddened that her first husband died in the flames, the woman threw herself in the flames to die with him. The second husband tried to save her, but failing to do so, he too jumped into the fire.

The three became the Kitchen gods and are honored in Vietnamese kitchens. However the three gods are sometimes personified as a single god, but his function remains the same -- to check on the family and report to the Jade Emperor at the end of the year.

With 2014 looming, I remembered the Tet celebration.  Happy New Year to all of you!

Here are more pictures taken in Vietnam during Tet.

Read also
Tet - Wikipedia
Tet- the biggest festival in Vietnam
The Vietnamese New Year
Garden Pictures from the Philippines and Vietnam
From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
The trip to the Philippines and Vietnam - 1 
Winning Hearts and Minds - fiction

tags: Vietnam, Tet, New Year, holiday, Kitchen god, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, lunar New Year
All for now,

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