Far from home but Hai Duong people in Japan still organize many activities to celebrate their traditional Tet (Lunar New Year).
Traditional Tet celebrating programs of Hai Duong people in Japan always take place with a variety of activities
More than 3,700 km away from home, but the Vietnamese community in general and Hai Duong people in particular in Japan still organize many activities to celebrate their traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) imbued with their national cultural character.
“34 sticky rice”
After a two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 epidemic, the Association of Vietnamese People in Osaka Prefecture will resume the program “Vietnamese Tet in Osaka” this Tet.
More than one month ago, Nguyen Tien Dung from Cam Giang, representative of the Association of Hai Duong Fellow-countrymen in the prefecture, called on about 2,500 people from “xu 34” (Hai Duong’s nickname) in Osaka to register for the program through its Fanpage.
The program “Vietnamese Tet in Osaka” has been maintained by the association for years. Apart from Vietnamese, the event attracts many foreigners in Japan.
Early in the morning, everyone gathers to make banh chung (square sticky rice cake) for presentation to participants. A monumental stage is set up with eye-catching couplets, apricot and peach blossoms, etc.
At the program, Hai Duong people compete in a traditional ao dai contest, art performances, and kylin dance and join in “Vietnamese cuisine” booths to propagandize typical dishes of their hometown.
“We always cook sticky rice with split peas or chicken and call it “34 sticky rice”. This is the best-selling dish that makes a lot of impressions on friends from other countries,” said Dung.
Hai Duong people in Osaka also organize a private year-end meal. They cook many typical dishes of their homeland such as banh chung, boiled chicken, boiled pork pies, sticky rice, etc. The year-end meal is always cozy. Everyone gives each other the best new year wishes.
Banh chung unwrapping contest
Nguyen Quynh Huong from Cam Giang (first row) has attended the Vietnamese ao dai contest at the program “Vietnamese Tet in Osaka” several times
This is one of prominent activities at the program “Greeting spring” which has been maintained since 2011 by the Vietnamese community in Toyoake city, Aichi prefecture, on the occasion of the traditional Tet.
“We set up teams to compete in banh chung unwrapping. The team that unwraps all cakes given by the organizers in the shortest time in good shape will receive gifts. After that, everyone will gather together to enjoy them,” said Pham Van Thai from Ninh Giang, who actively takes part in the event every year.
The program is usually held at the Toyoake Cultural House. Hundreds of Hai Duong people there register for the event. About 1,000 seats in the cultural house are almost filled.
Apart from the banh chung unwrapping contest, Hai Duong people in Toyoake city also participate in many activities during the traditional Tet like cleaning and tree planting at Duc Lam pagoda (a Japanese pagoda specializing in training monks for Vietnam), musical exchanges, sports, draws for lucky money at the beginning of the year, etc.
Popularization of traditional culture
Most of Vietnamese communities, including Hai Duong people, in provinces and cities of Japan, can organize traditional Tet celebrations. Despite different scales, they are often integrated with many activities to preserve and propagate traditional cultural beauties of Vietnam.
Nguyen Quynh Huong from Cam Giang, who has attended Vietnamese ao dai contests at programs “Enjoying the traditional Tet” in Osaka prefecture and Kobe city several times, said: “I am very proud to wear ao dai, which is imbrued with Vietnamese national character. Many foreigners participating in the contest were very interested and even bought Vietnamese ao dai as gifts for their relatives.”
Bui Van Du from Thanh Ha has worked in Aichi prefecture since 2015. He is the head of a Nhat Nam (traditional Vietnamese martial arts) club. Every year, the club organizes performances at a traditional Tet enjoying program held by Vietnamese people in Aichi.
“This activity has helped improve the spiritual life of Vietnamese people here during Tet to relieve their homesickness. I want to contribute to preserving and promoting fine cultural features of our country to international friends,” said Du.
Going to pagoda to pray for peace
Nguyen Thanh Luong from Tu Ky (left) and a colleague at a business in Shizuoka prefecture celebrate every traditional Tet together
Nguyen Thanh Luong from Tu Ky and more than 20 Vietnamese people working for a business in Shizuoka prefecture always gather to celebrate their traditional Tet.
They clean their houses, go to the market, make banh chung, arrange a five-fruit tray, and cook the year-end meal. Their boss and some colleagues from other countries are invited.
After the year-end meal, Luong and the others go to the pagoda to burn incense right at the time of New Year's Eve.
Going to the pagoda on New Year's Eve to pray for peace is a traditional cultural beauty that has been maintained by Vietnamese people in Japan for years.
“We join in many Tet celebrations with others but return to our place at the time of New Year's Eve to go to the pagoda with our spouse or relatives to pray for peace. A lot of Vietnamese people here go to the pagoda on New Year's Eve,” said Nguyen Quynh Trang from Kim Thanh, who is working in Kobe city.
Because the time difference between Vietnam and Japan is not large, at the time of New Year's Eve, many Hai Duong people also call their parents, family, relatives, etc. to extend Tet wishes.