Muong Bi ethnic people celebrate Tet

(VOVworld) – Unlike the Kinh majority, Muong Bi ethnic people think that spring arrives on the 27th day of the 12th lunar month instead of on the 23rd day. These days, all Muong Bi villages in Hoa Binh province are jubilantly celebrating Tet, the traditional lunar new year.

Muong Bi ethnic people celebrate Tet - ảnh 1

On the 27th day of the 12th lunar month, Muong Bi people stop their farm work to prepare for Tet. For them, the ancestral altar is the most sacred place so it must be in the center of the house. It is here that Muong Bi people hold their rituals and receive guests. Patriarch Bui Van Khan of Ai hamlet said the altar must be prepared by men: “Women are only allowed to prepare the altar when there is no man in the family. The altar must have incense and lamps. The bowls, chopsticks, betel, areca nuts, and fruits must be arranged neatly.”

Mr. Khan’s 3 children have all returned home to celebrate Tet. Each of them is in charge of a job but the cooking is done by the women. Khan’s wife said Tet is an occasion for her children to learn about family and Muong Bi ethnic traditions: “There are lots of tasks to be done during Tet such as wrapping cakes or cleaning the house.  The work will be easier with my children’s help this year. I will teach them to make cakes, chop firewood, and clean the house.”

Muong Bi ethnic people celebrate Tet - ảnh 2

While waiting for his wife and children to prepare the offerings to their ancestors, Khan cut the most beautiful peach blossom branch in the garden to place on the altar. He himself prepared the flower vase on the altar. He said that Muong Bi people prefer red flowers during Tet because the red color brings good luck. Khan talked about the traditional dishes of the Muong Bi people: “All the foods must be placed on banana tree leaves. Our ancestors did not have dishes like we have today so we must use banana tree leaves. Only the soup is put in bowls.”

Muong Bi people think the deceased can enjoy food just as the living do. Bui Van Dung, head of Ai hamlet, said: “Because living conditions have improved, everyone now enjoys a sufficient Tet with pork, chicken and fish. They all have well-prepared feasts.”

In addition to meat, cakes, and wine, Muong Bi people erect a tall pole in front of their house. The pole must be bamboo or a similar kind of tree which has a thin, straight trunk. Mr. Khan said: “The pole is erected on the 27th day. We then knit a plate-sized wattle and put it on the door of our house. This is to chase away evil spirits. When Tet is over, the pole will fall by itself and we don’t have to pull it down.”

Although the living conditions of Muong Bi people have improved, their cultural traditions remain intact. The red color of peach flowers covers Ai hamlet and everyone is welcoming the new year with hopes for a bumper crop and prosperity.