Monday, 09/01/2023 21:51

Celebrating the Tết traditions of Việt Nam's three regions in Hà Nội

Ngọc Hương

Hà Nội's Old Quarter these days is bustling with various activities featuring the traditional customs and rituals of lunar new year of the country's three regions.

Tết Việt Tết Phố 2023 (Vietnamese Tết Street Tết) will be showcased at venues including Kim Ngân Communal House at 42-44 Hàng Bạc Street, Heritage House at 87 Mã Mây Street and Old Quarter Culture Exchange Centre at 50 Đào Duy Từ.

Visitors can see traditional decorations, art performances, calligraphy, painting and drawing, and important rituals during Tết.

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“Our club has co-operated with the Old Quarter Management Board to host Tết activities for four years so far,” Nguyễn Đức Bình, Head of Đình Làng Việt Club, told Việt Nam News. “We have mobilised our members to join in various activities such as worship ceremonies, processions, erecting cây nêu (lucky tree) and perform arts.

The task of popularising traditional culture can be implemented easily during Tết as people’s minds at that time are focused on their roots, ancestors and tradition, they said.

Bình said Tết is when people reunite with their families and the club members also gather in Hà Nội from various regions to join in Tết activities.

Artists perform ca trù (ceremonial singing) at the event. VNS Photo Lê Hương

“This year, the activities are organised earlier than in previous years, when Tết took place after the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month. At that time, people from afar couldn't come to Hà Nội. This year, many more people from afar can join in,” he said.

“The pandemic has been controlled, so this year, the organisers want to introduce the Tết customs of the three regions. People from the southernmost province of Bạc Liêu, the northwestern region and the central region flock here for Tết,” he said.

Lê Việt Dũng, who leads an art troupe from Bút Village in the central province of Thanh Hóa, could not hide his pride to perform at the event.

“We perform folk songs and dances of the Thai ethnic minority group, which bears significant features of the Thai group in the western region,” he said. “This is the first time we have been invited to perform at a Tết event in downtown Hà Nội. I feel very happy to join in at Tết, where the traditional cultural features of all regions are reflected including those of the Thái ethnic group. At the same time, I feel proud as among many localities and ethnic groups, the Hà Nội Old Quarter Management Board invited the art troupe from Bút Village.”

Nam Chi works at the event. VNS Photo Lê Hương

Besides folk singing and dancing, visitors can see artisans draw calligraphy and make traditional paintings, too.

“Today, I display my paintings of the Kim Hoàng and Hàng Trống genres and the worship paintings of ethnic groups,” said folk painting artisan Nam Chi.

Chi said each genre has special features. Hàng Trống painting has special colours. In Kim Hoàng genre, the background of the paper is treated in red before printing the painting. That’s why it is also called the red painting genre. Worship paintings of ethnic minority groups are often drawn in long strips of paper of some 50cm by 100cm.

“The youth now know less about folk paintings. Having a space for traditional paintings in Tết is a good way to let more people know about folk art,” he said.

Calligrapher Lê Thanh Liêm said he draws lucky characters for people at this event.

“Vietnamese people like calligraphy work to hang at home as decorations during Tết,” he said. “Popular characters are An (Peace), Phúc (Happiness), Lộc (Wealth), Thọ (Longevity), Tài (Talent), Đăng Khoa (Success). People want the calligraphy works to bring them luck and remind them to overcome difficulties, to encourage them to study harder. The works are like reminder for people, not anything magical.”

Liêm said the characters are of Han, Nôm and Vietnamese Romanised letters drawn in paper with Chinese ink.

Calligrapher Lê Thanh Liêm (right) presents a calligraphy work to a visitor at the event. VNS Photo Lê Hương

Ten-year-old Hoàng Thị Minh An from Hải Phòng City accompanied her dad to the event.

“Normally, I also perform ca trù like my dad,” she said. “I feel happy and excited to join in Tết Việt activities as I can make a small contribution to preserve cultural heritage.”

An said she wanted to share her passion and encourage her friends to learn ca trù melodies.

“I teach my friends simple songs that I know,” she said.

Luciano Ammazzini, a tourist from Italy, said he was impressed with the decorations and activities here.

“This is my last day here,” he said. “Next time, I will return in Tết time to experience a lunar new year in Việt Nam.”

People can see traditional food as offerings to ancestors in Heritage House on Mã Mây Street, where artisans also trim narcissus bulbs. The flowers will come into full bloom during Tết. Visitors can also make bánh chưng (square sticky rice cake) at the house.

At the Culture & Arts Centre at 22 Hàng Buồm Street, a photo exhibition themed From Heritage to Contemporary Time and traditional music performances will take place everyday.

The Hồ Gươm Information Culture Centre at No. 2 Lê Thái Tổ Street will host a contest for children with the theme of the cat and display ceramic works of cats by artist Nguyễn Văn Toán and a virtual 3D technology space featuring art works.

Phùng Hưng Graffiti Street will gather artisans of traditional handicrafts such as folk painting, calligraphy, ceramics, rattan wares, clay figurines, goods and food for Tết. Art shows will be performed there on the weekend.

The Tết Việt Tết Phố 2023 will take place until January 28, while the activities on Phùng Hứng Street will end on January 20. VNS

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