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Archive for January, 2018

Peach blossom, or Hoa Dao is not only a flower but it has become an integral part in the life of Hanoi people, especially when the Lunar New Year is around. As a traditional feature, every family in Vietnam would buy one or some types of flower that appear only in Tet; if in the South of Vietnam, yellow apricot flower is the most common, in the Northern part, people usually purchase Hoa Dao for adornment. The main reason for this difference is the characteristics of the plants. While peach trees grow well in cold weather, orchid flowers just can survive and bloom in tropical lands with lots of sunshine.

Around one week before Tet approaches, everyone seems to hasten be in a rush so that all the work can be finished once a new year comes. As busy as that, however, hardly any family can neglect to clean their houses neatly, to put on some decorations and especially to buy a pretty peach blossom tree. Hanoi people usually have a saying that “Spring arrives when Hoa Dao starts to blossom” and Spring represents for Tet. This flower may be simple but when the tree is in full blossom, its bright color provokes such a bustling and exciting feeling. Normally, there are two kinds of peach blossom tree or this flower comes in two colors: red (Dao Bich) and pink ( Dao phai), in which the former is more popular. There are also two ways to display the flower, putting a whole tree in a pot or just taking a big branch and arranging in a vast.

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Peach blossom comes in vividly red color with double petals

This is a time-honored tradition but no one knows exactly since when people considered Hoa Dao a symbol of Tet. It is said that from a long time ago, there were two Gods called Tra and Uat Luy residing in a giant peach blossom tree and had a power to frighten ghosts and devils and prevent the villagers from being disturbed by them. For that reason, people had a strong belief that by bringing the peach blossom home, peculiarly in Tet, they would drive away the devils and bad fortunes. As time passes by, people were no longer convinced by that story, still, they appreciated Hoa Dao and saw it important for their life. These days, Hoa Dao is thought to be a demonstration of novelty, proliferation and development. Hence, it can deliver health, peace and luck for people when a whole new year comes. Tet is also a special time for families and friends to gather after one year of hard-working, wishing each other all the best. Therefore, peach blossom is a token of happiness and cosiness.

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People flock to see the traditional peach blossom market in Hanoi

If you pay a visit to Hanoi in Tet period which varies from year to year, normally around January and February, you can easily catch a sight of Hoa Dao in everywhere: private houses, schools, hospitals or other public areas. Ordinarily, people purchase Hoa Dao two or three weeks ahead of the New Year Eve. In Hanoi, Nhat Tan village is famous for being a cradle of peach blossom with many fine craftsmen. Growing peach tree is such an art that it has been passed from one generation to others.

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A view from Nhat Tan Village where you can seek for the most genuine and pretty peach trees in Hanoi

Also, Nhat Tan flower market is well-known for its variety of flowers from different regions throughout the country. Peach trees from mountainous areas such as Lang Son, Mau Son, Moc Chau, etc. are brought to Hanoi and they are preferred by people here. Another major flower market that sells Hoa Dao in Tet is the area around Hang Luoc Street (Combs Street), Hang Ngang, Hang Dao Street in the old quarter. These flower markets are not only a place that people can procure themselves a peach blossom tree but they draw hundreds of visitors every year coming to admire and take photos.

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A woman who has just collected the flowers and is about to bring to the market

The image of Hoa Dao is too familiar to people that it even becomes a major subject in poems and songs. In along with Chung Cake or Lucky Money, Hoa Dao is more than a decoration stuff, its vivid beauty and profound meaning is a big part in Vietnamese life whenever Tet comes.

 

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Wedding, where the two people or a couple are united in marriage, is always a special ceremony. Each country/culture/ethnic groups/religions have a different way to celebrate this day.Vietnam is known as a multi-culture with the diversify of different 54 ethnic minorities. Each group has its own way to celebrate the wedding, and the modern weddings are also changing nowadays with more flexibility. Even the Vietnamese people or the Kinh people, are the majority ethnic group that comprising 86 % of the population, living in the different region has the very  different ways to celebrate the wedding.

Although the long periods of Chinese domination and influence have placed the Vietnamese culture, and with many difficulties during the decades of war, Vietnamese people nowadays has been keeping the traditional culture for the weddings, that are shown in the attire, the engagement, the main wedding, the food, etc. Today let’s see how Vietnamese prepare and what the bride and groom have to do in their most important day of their lives.

Before the Wedding: the Engagement

In the past, under the feudalism, parents have the right to choose the partners for their children. An engagement ceremony usually occurs months before the wedding, with the arrangement of the parents and extended family. Sometimes children were consulted, but it was nearly always the parents’ final decision. The bride and groom haven’t got the chance to meet until the day of their engagement.

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However, things have changed significantly in the last few decades. Vietnamese women and men now can have their own decision for who they date, and marry based on love rather than arranged marriages. The engagement nowadays usually been arranged only one day before the wedding. The date and time usually be picked up carefully. On this day, the groom’s family will come to bride’s family with round lacquered boxes known as betrothal presents. It composes of areca nuts and betel leaves, tea, cake, fruits, wines, jewelry and other delicacies which covered with red cloth and carried by unmarried girls or boys. The number of boxes depends on the wealthy of the groom’s family, but it must be even numbers (3,5,7 or 9).

Ăn hỏi của cô dâu chú rể Kim Ngân - Công Cường

Bride and groom in the Engagement day

The engagement plays an important part and can not be skipped. It is the time the parents and closed relatives of groom and bride meet and talk in person and discuss how to do the things properly on the next day. The bride usually wears traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai in red, while the groom wears Ao Dai for men or suit.

The Wedding

On the wedding day, young couples have tended to choose a hotel to celebrate, especially in big cities. Invitation cards are sent one or two weeks before the wedding date. Relatives and guests of both groom and bride attend the wedding wear nice clothes but it does not have to be too formal. The bride and groom can choose the theme and style they want to decorate and in the high season (usually in Autumn and Spring), they need to book the services months before.

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Wedding Ceremony is organized at the hotel profesionally

Guest brings along an envelope with the money inside and give it directly to the bride and groom, or put in in a red box on the welcome table. The money is reffered as a gift and symbol of prosperity, health and happiness, and will help the young couple in setting up a new start for themselves independently after the wedding.

The guests then enjoy the well-prepared food with the traditional dishes such as the sticky rice, boiled chicken, rice, soup,  seafood, etc. The menu varies depends on the local region but food are usually well prepared and served.

If the bride or groom’s house is large enough to celebrate the wedding at home, guests will be invited to their homes for the meals.  House is specially decorated in the traditional way with main colors in red. The number of guests can up to 300-400 people so each family need to ask for help from their relatives and neighbors to welcome them.

After the party, groom’s family will transfer to bride’s family with the cars decorated with flowers. Groom usually wear suits and bride wear the white dress in Western style on this day. The groom first has to come to the bride’s ancestors, then both of them stand or knee down in front of the alter and burn incense sticks, then asking permission to bless their marriage and their future family. The couple then bows to the bride’s parents giving thanks for raising them, then they bow each other to show the respectation.

During that time, relatives and guests enjoy the teas, sweet and snacks. They sing the happy songs about love for bride and groom. The couple has to walk around to greet and say thanks to the guests for their attending. The parents of groom then ask the permission of bride’s parents to let them marriage and allow their daughter to become their daughter in law. Usually, Mom of the bride will give her daughter the jewelry before saying goodbye to their beloved little girl.

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Wealty family hires luxury cars for the wedding

The couple then transfers to groom’s house to repeat the same procedure. Usually, bride’s dad and some closed relatives and friends come along with the bride. When in the groom’s home, parents of the groom and bride’s dad will give them advice about marriage and family to the couple. Mother in law also give the bride the gift box with jewelry with hope it will bring luck and prosperity.

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Mother in law give jewelry to the bride

Due to Western influence, the wedding now usually follows the concept of exchanging wedding rings and giving the kiss in front of guests, then taking photos with the guests.

After the Wedding

The guests leave with good wishes for the couple. The wedding usually occurs for 2 days, and then the bride and groom can have a honeymoon trip or not, due to their interest and work timetable.

New husband has to come back to his wife’s home and stay for 1-2 days before the wife moves into their husband’s family to live with their parents in law, or move to the new place to start the marriage life.

If you have a chance to be invited to a Vietnamese wedding, it would be very interesting to learn and understand Vietnamese in further. And don’t forget to bring the lucky money for the bride and groom.

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