Folk Games During Tet Holidays
In the country area, Tet is often a holiday to celebrate with games, folk singing and village feasts. Get to know some of the most popular communal games during Tet holiday.
Danh Du (Swinging) is a very traditional and interesting game held every Tet holiday. 2 tall poles are placed parallel on the ground, and the swing is tied to the 2 poles. The people involve in this game compete with others in pairs (may be 1 man 1 woman or a couple of women), and try to swing as high as possible to achieve the first place. The award is not too big, usually a bag of rice or some cakes and fruits, but achieving the first place in front of all villagers is considered a big honor for attendees.
Leo Cot Mo
Leo Cot Mo (Slip Pole Climb) is a Tet holiday game designated for men, due to its difficulties and dangers of the process. A line of tall, big poles are placed stable on the ground (often 5 or 10 ones). The surface of the poles must be smooth with no prominent point, and people use slip liquid (usually animal fat tissue) to make the poles really slippery. On the top of each pole, a bag covered by red silk is attached. Participants will try to climb the poles as fast as possible to get the red bag. Whoever gee bag first will be the winner.
Hat bai choi
Hat Bai Choi (Tend Card Singing) is the most famous traditional game in the Centre of Vietnam during Tet holiday. There are 11 tends in this unique game, 1 main tend in the middle for the referees and 5 tends for each side of the main one. The game starts when the referee randomly picks a card from 33 pieces of the whole card board. The referee then sings a riddle about the card and people in other tends must try to guest the name. Which tend gets the right name first will earn the card. If a tend gains 3 cards, it considered “achieve” and a traditional band will perform music to celebrate the success.
Dau Vat (Wrestling) is a sport happens throughout the year, but the festival holds every Tet holiday is the biggest and most notable one. Unlike American wrestling, where athletes can punch, slap or kick the opponent, Vietnamese wrestling bans all those actions. Participants just can lock, push, pull and lift each other. In order to be the winner, an attendee must make the opponent lay down with his back face the ground, or lift the opponent up high in the air. But since the wrestling events divide wrestler by weights, a win by lifting opponents seem to be extinct. Another different point of Vietnam wrestling compared to others is the game is supported by the energetic drum sounds.
Co Nguoi (People Chinese Chess) is a very unique form of Chinese Chess, the second most popular board game in the world (just after Western Chess). This interesting event is just held in Tet holiday due to its high cost of preparing. The rule is the same as regular Chinese Chess, but the game board is now the big yard, and the pieces of the chess are now played by people. Each people will dress like the name of his/her piece: Tuong (General) has a long coat, some part of armor, a steel hat; Si (Advisor) dresses like an old officer, Tuong (Elephant) has a head of elephant, Phao (Cannon) has a small cannon made from wood, etc. Each team will have a Commander using a flag to lead his army. When a piece “eat” another, the two people perform like fighting, and the eaten piece will leave the playground. Another from of this game is people holding tables with the name of the pieces, in order to save the budget since the cost of preparing 32 dresses is sometimes too high with the village.
Together with the festive atmosphere Tet brings to Vietnam every year, the event also the best time of the year for Vietnamese to show their religious belief and traditional custom. Among them, visiting pagodas on the first days of the year has long been a lofty tradition.
Tet Nguyen Dan- the biggest festival of the year- plays an extremely essential role in Vietnamese’s beliefs and culture. Among many complicated religious rituals performed in this occasion, “xong dat” (first visit to a home in a year) is believed to decide the fortune of the host for the whole year.
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.