The event began in China and was originally known as the Dragon Boat Holiday; however, the Vietnamese made a promise to add their own flavor to this particular festival. In Vietnam, the Double Fifth Festival is known as the “Doan Ngo Festival”, also known as “Tết giết sâu bọ” (Festival for “Killing the person’s inner insects”) or Mid-year Festival, which is the second most significant festival (after the Lunar New Year ) of Vietnam.
What is the Doan Ngo Festival?
Tet refers to a festival, Doan means the beginning and Ngo implies the time of horse, which directs 11-13 o’clock and the south. Doan Ngo festival to be celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
The term “Tet sau bo” derives from the fact that farmers get rid of all pests on this day to begin planting their crops for the new season. Therefore, creatures and people must become stronger in both their health and their souls to overcome this. On this occasion, the whole family has to get up early and eat fermented sticky fruit. The worship is held at noon, the hour of Ngo. The tradition of eating dumplings, especially lye water dumplings, extends from the belief that the dumplings will cleanse one’s body of any unwanted “parasites”.
History of Mid-year Festival
Some researchers suggest that the celebration originated in China. There is a legend of Qu Yuan – a Chinese poet and general who lived during the Warring States period of ancient China. When he realized Chu’s decline was irreversible, he prevented the king from making some bad decisions. Other officials made up false stories about him. The king did not follow his advice and hated him. He was so sad that he threw himself into the Mi La River, China on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. The Chinese feel sorry for your pure-hearted man. So every year, on this day, people make cakes with five-color rope, drop them into the river to offer Khuat Nguyen. They tie five-color strings on the cake so that the fish are afraid and dare not eat the cake. This custom also gradually spread to several neighboring countries.
Qu Yuan whom the Chinese worship for the pure-hearted man (Source: CGTN)
Irreplaceable Dishes in Doan Ngo Festival
Banh U – Pyramid Sticky Rice Dumplings:
Banh U in Doan Ngo festival
According to the history mentioned above, this cake originated in China and was modified when it was introduced to Vietnam. It will be divided into two different types of cakes and savory cakes. The ingredients inside are mainly glutinous rice, beans, durian, or pork to give the cake a savory taste,… In addition, it is wrapped in a type of leaf, called “lá dung” in Vietnam, or in some places people use bamboo leaves. If you have a chance to come to Vietnam around the 5th of the fifth lunar month, you should try this cake.
Fermented rice (black glutinous rice)
It is traditional food on Doan Ngo Festival (Source: Youtube Sức Khỏe Tâm Sinh)
This dish is indispensable for any family during the Doan Ngo Festival. According to folklore, eating fermented rice on May 5th will repel illness in the body and purify the body. Therefore, family members, after personal hygiene, must eat fermented rice together.
In addition, there are other typical cakes as well as special fruits for this season such as lychee, plum, jackfruit, watermelon,…
And that’s all about Tet Doan Ngo, one of the oldest festivals as well as a very specific culture of Vietnamese communication. Hopefully, one day, if you have a chance to travel at this time, you can experience this festival. If you would like to read similar articles, visit the website Saigon Hotpot to know more about Vietnamese culture and people in Saigon in particular.
Written by Kurt Nguyễn
Image sources: Google+ Kurt Nguyễn