• Food for Tet Holiday in Vietnam
  • Tet Flowers in Vietnam
  • Wishes in Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Origin of Vietnam tradition Xông đất

Year by year, Tết holiday has repeated in the role of the most fundamental and also biggest festival of a year to Vietnamese, from Kinh people to ethnic communities. In this crucial event, Xông đất (first visit to a home in a year) appears to be one of the indispensable rites. People in Vietnam have appreciated more and more the importance of this culture. It has been modified a lot with a considerable number of rules and requirements, which both preserve the essence of Xong Dat tradition while adapting to the modern life of a Vietnamese.

If one does a survey asking Vietnamese about the origin of “Xông Đất”, a majority of asked people might not be able to answer. Only a few elderlies and experts on Vietnamese culture have adequate knowledge to tell the stories about the origin of this traditional rite, but these stories are also different and sometimes confusing. 

“Xông đất” and the connection with Taoism

Many Vietnamese people and cultural experts believe that Xông đất originated from Taoism when it was universalized in Vietnam thousands years ago. The main doctrine of this tradition generated from the elite of agricultural culture in the South of China, therefore it more concentrates on living harmonically and peacefully with the nature and people around.

In Vietnam, Taoism has been spread and become popular thousands year ago among normal people like farmers, merchants or vendors because of its emphasizing on nature. Therefore, this religious tradition has significantly impacted Vietnamese culture.

Vietnamese always keep in mind a desire of long last living and fortune for everything they do and seek ways to satisfy their demand. And with the doctrine of Taoism of the harmony of 5 nature elements (fire, water, earth, metal and wood), Vietnamese began to invite people who are suitable for them, expecting luck and success for the new year. For example, Vietnamese believe that water nurtures trees, so that people with “Water” clause are suitable for the first visiting (xông đất) people with “Tree” clause. The truth is that this harmony belief is also applied to many other affairs of Vietnamese such as building houses or purchasing cars and apartment.

Doctrine of the 12 Zodiac animals and impact on the appearance of “Xông Đất”

Another theory is stated that “Xông đất” might originate from traditional rites of Vietnamese people to worship the 12 Zodiac animals.

12 Zodiac animal theory refers to the collection of 12 animals that represent year and age of people, including: Rat, Buffalo (Ox in Chinese culture), Tiger, Cat (or Rabbit in Chinese culture), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Hen, Dog, Pig. They are made up to 6 pairs that negatively impact each other. Also, there are pairs that positively influence each other which means that bringing fortune, success and good to each other. 

Examples of the complementary astrology: 

Household head: Mouse  - First visitors: Monkey - Dragon - Buffalo
Household head: Buffalo - First visitors: Snake - Hen - Mouse
Household head: Tiger - First visitors: Horse- Dog-  Pig
Household head: Cat - First visitors: Goa - Pig - Dog

Sometimes, choosing the first visitor to come to the family depends on other factors as well. Some people might not have the most matching astrology with the household head but they are known to be amiable and "luck-generator" which are preferred by the host. The vice versa also holds water. The Xong Dat tradition has grown in importance over years, as people place a higher value in spiritual and belief life and so is choosing the right one to Xong Dat.

Read more: Do and Don't when Xong Dat