Tết Đoan Ngọ, Mid-year Festival, the Fesitval of killing inner insects, or Parasite-Killing Festival, is one of the biggest annual festivals. It falls on the 5th day of May in lunar calendar and has been around for a long time, probably thousands of years.
We may take a deeper look into its given name. As being said, Tết Đoan Ngọ is how it is called, with Đoan: “start” or “beginning”, and “Ngọ”: “noon” that lasts around 11:00 AM till 1:00 PM. Hence, the festival is usually celebrated with the purpose of warding away illness as well as evil spirits.
Unlike China where Duanwu – Mid Year Festival named by Chinese – is known as a festival to commemorate Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), an ancient Chinese patriotic poet, Vietnamese Tết Đoan Ngọ turns up in its own way. Once upon a time, peasants were eager to their prosperous harvest, then came a dense swarm of insects that severely laid siege to all of their yields. On spur of moment, a mysterious old man showed up, guided the villagers to offer bánh tro (made of glutinous rice flour dipped in lye), and fruits in front of their houses, then went for a warm up. As a surprise, the insects died with all of the sudden. This story has been told every single year through generations. Then 5th of May in lunar calendar was chosen to be a big sort of commemoration and celebration, which got its name as “Tết Giết Sâu Bọ” – “The festival of killing insects” accordingly.
Vietnamese people hold the event not only just for the story of “killing insects” mentioned above but also for remaining their good health. This time of the year is a shift between two seasons (from Spring to Summer) that is believed to lead to the outcome of some epidemic diseases and illnesses. Then people tend to have foods and drinks like sticky rice wine – com ruou (fermented rice bathed in wine), bánh tro (made of glutinous rice flour dipped in lye) and fruits of sour taste to purge all diseases from their bodies. Above all, to most of our families, the festival is such a good opportunity for a big reunion.
By Oanh Nguyen, Mazevietnam