Traditional foods offering to ancestors on Tet festival
11:02 | 12/02/2021

VGP – The Lunar New Year (Tet) Festival is of great spiritual importance in Viet Nam with a handful of cultural worshipping rituals taking place during this most beautiful time of the year. There are foods regarded as indispensable in such rituals, especially the five below which appear on the traditional tables to worship the ancestors during the Tet festival. 

Vietnamese square sticky rice cake (banh chung) and Vietnamese tube sticky rice cake (banh tet)

1. Vietnamese square sticky rice cake (banh chung) and Vietnamese tube sticky rice cake (banh tet)

Banh chung is square as it symbolizes the earth, while banh tet is tube-shaped (ancient Vietnamese people believed the sky is round, the earth is square).

The main ingredient is sticky rice which was one of the most important foods to ancient Viet people. Hidden inside the sticky rice layer is the delicious filling made from mung bean and fatty pork. These cakes are a beautiful representation of respects for ancestors and Mother Nature.

Boiled chicken (ga luoc)

2. Boiled chicken (ga luoc)

Boiled chicken is basically a whole chicken boiled to the color of pale yellow. People might put the processed whole chicken to do worshipping, but some families might decide to chop the chicken into pieces and display them on the plate. The food should be topped with the Vietnamese coriander and eaten with the sauce including salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The yellow boiled and skin-perfect chicken represents the good beginning of the New Year.

Vietnamese sausage (gio cha)

3. Vietnamese sausage (Gio Cha)

They call gio cha Vietnamese sausage because of the somewhat similar shapes. Gio cha is often cut down to pieces across the length of it for every people. 

Cha is also made of lean pork and ingredients, but Cha is not wrapped by leaves and boiled but deep-fried in oil. Cha just survive for some days when Gio can last for month due to its covers. There are many kind of Gio, categorized by its origins: GioLua (made from pork), Gio Ga (made from chicken), Gio Bo (made from beef).

Vegetables soup with pork skin (canh bong)

4. Vegetables soup with pork skin (canh bong)

This is a frugal, simple dish, which is simply vegetable soup with some pork skin. The vegetables selection often includes broccolis, cauliflowers, carrots, mushrooms and peas, added with young shrimps and some meatballs.

Fried spring roll (nem ran)

5. Fried spring roll (nem ran)

Nem is an ensemble of natural ingredients and flavors, including rice paper, pork belly, onion, fungus, vermicelli, eggs, pepper, shrimp, sea crab, carrot, kohlrabi and bean sprout. The stuffing is minced, seasoned and kneaded together with all colors of the spring.

Viet Nam’s Nem is more elegant in appearance as it uses thinner paper and has a greater diversity of flavors.

Five-fruit tray (mam ngu qua)

6. Five-fruit tray (mam ngu qua)

The five-fruit tray is a must-have on the altar during Tet. The exact selection varies through time, region, and even the house owner’s preference. However, they must be of a different color as the five-fruit tray also plays an important role in decoration for Tet.

In Northern Viet Nam, popular choices are orange, banana, pomelo, green apple, pear and the “Buddha’s hand” fruit. Meanwhile, in Southern VietNam, where some of those fruits are not available due to a hotter climate, people often choose watermelon, papaya, mango, pineapple, coconut or dragon fruit.

Vietnamese food is a part of culture, and the essence of cuisine is also the soul of a country’s culture. The preservation of a country’s culture not only includes the preservation of language, religion and music but also includes the protection of cuisine. Thus, protecting the country’ foods contributes to the protection of our cultural values.

By Thuy Dung 


  Reader opinion
Turn off Vietnamese typing Automatic typing Telex VNI VIQR  
Fullname Email address