Lunar January, month of festivals

Vietnam Overview

Lunar January, month of festivals

Being Vietnamese people, you must know a famous sentence: “the lunar January is a month for playing and attending festivals”. Although that saying only mentions the lunar January but the spring festivals ofen last until the lunar March. Because, following to wet rice civilization, Vietnamese people believe that when spring comes, the fun of harvest time also comes. So before staring a hard-working year, people want to spend time with family  or relatives to worship their ancestors and the gods of heaven and earth and volunteer to be pilgrims to the pagodas to pray for happiness, prosperity and luck for the whole year. That’s why traditional festivals bloom during this most beautiful season of the year. Here are some festivals happening during the first lunar month.

Perfume Pagoda Festival

            The first festival must mention here is Huong festival. This event is taken part in Ha Tay province (New Hanoi). The Huong Pagoda Festival which is opened on Feb (the sixth day of the first lunar month) and runs until the end of March, lasting three spring months so it is the biggest and longest annual festival . It attracts more 15,000 Buddhist pilgrims and tourists, more than 1 million pilgrims and tourists each year. Nearly 200 high-quality boats have been added to the fleet of more than 4,000 boats to serve tourists during this year’s festival. While drifting on the river, tourists can enjoy traditional music shows.

If you are a pilgrim during 3 years continously, you will have luck and happiness.

Dong Da,  Giong and Co Loa festivals in Hanoi

The culturally rich capital boasts over 100 festivals. The Dong Da Festival on the fifth day of the first lunar month (February 7) commemorates the battle of Emperor Quang Trung against invaders of the Qing dynasty. The highlight of the festival is a Fire Dragon dance. A group of young men wearing close-fitted white clothes, with red stripes and belts, and blue puttees, raise the dragon to their heads and perform the dance of the “hovering dragon.” Additionally, there are traditional martial arts, unicorn dancing, dragon dancing, wrestling, human chess, cock fighting and religious rites.

The Giong Festival is held annually in Phu Dong village, Gia Lam district, Hanoi, on the 9th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar to commemorate Thanh Giong, one of the four immortal gods of Vietnamese folk culture. On the 7th day, a water puppet performance is held in front of the Phu Dong Temple. On the 8th day, 28 women are selected to represent the generals of the An invaders. Among festivals in Hanoi, Giong festival can be regarded as the greatest one. It is also an opportunity for participants to witness the ritual ceremonies. People can also feel the multi-lateral relationships between village and State, individual and community, past and present, reality and unreality, heaven and earth, which are all kept up and handed down to many generations. After being acknowledged as the intangible cultural world heritage in 2011 by UNESCO, the festival has gained much attention from local people and both domestic and foreign tourists

The Co Loa Festival from the sixth to the sixteenth day of the first lunar month (from February 8 to 18) at Co Loa Commune in Dong Anh District commemorates King An Duong Vuong who came to the throne in 257 BC. Local and neighboring people join in an offering ceremony in eight communes and enjoy various entertainment activities like traditional wrestling, volleyball, human chess, love duets, water puppetry, cock fighting, swinging and rice cooking among others.

Tich Dien Festival in Ha Nam

Locals and tourists on Wednesday (the seventh day of the first lunar month) flocked to Doi Son Commune, Duy Tien District in Ha Nam Province to celebrate the Tich Dien Festival (field ploughing festival) to commemorate the first ploughing festival since the year of 987 under the reign of king Le Dai Hanh. During the festival people participated in both cultural and sports activities like volleyball contest, swinging game, foot bridge challenge and tug of war among others. The highlight of the event was 15 big buffalos ploughing a field.

Lim and Ba Chua Kho festivals in Bac Ninh

Quan Ho folk song festivals are organized every year in 49 villages of the Former King Bac province, which now account for a majority of villages in Habac province. They start form January 4 and end in the second half of February (lunar year), lasting for nearly two months but the main day of the festival is on 13th of the first lunar month.  The opening date of the Festival is related to a legend: a native woman of the Eastern hamlet of Noi Due commune, named Ba Mu, became a Buddhist monk at the Lim Pagoda and, thereafter, reached enlightenment. When a serious drought hit the village, the inhabitants came to the pagoda and begged her for assistance and the drought was ended. As a result, the villagers of Lung Giang, alias Lim village, worshipped her as their Village Spirit Protector and took the date of her enlightenment as the date of their festival. The Lim Festival also includes all the ritual stages, from the procession to the worshipping ceremony. The Lim Festival is a special cultural activity in the North. The festival celebrates the “Quan Ho” folk song which was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009.

Ba Chua Kho Festival which will be held on the 14th day of the first lunar month (Feb. 16) at Co Me Village, Vu Ninh Commune, Bac Ninh City, Bac Ninh Province is to commemorate Ba Chua Kho or The Queen of Stock and to pray for property and good luck. It is said that Lady Chua Kho was a hard working woman. After marrying the king of Ly Dynasty, she asked for going to Vu Ninh area, recruited villagers for establishing village, expanded the wasteland, organized production in 72 small villages. She also kept an eyes on the food stock, maintained military provisions well during and after the victory of Song invaders in Nhu Nguyet River (Cau River) in 1076. When she died, people built a temple to dedicated to her. Annually, the temple attracts a great number of people from the whole country to worship and pray for good fortune and borrow money from her in working of the whole year.

Yen Tul and Cua Ong festival in Quang Ninh

Lasting for three months and usually begin on the 10th day of the first lunar month, Yen Tu festival may be considered as one of the longest festivals in Vietnam with about tens of thousands of pilgrims annually. They start their journey to the uppermost shrine after a solemn ritual held at the base of Yen Tu Mountain. During the festival, the people near and far flock to Yen Tu which was regarded as the Buddhist land to show their belief and aspiration or to get rid of all sorrows and sadness. Besides, a lot of others go to Yen Tu to do sightseeing and to enjoy the pure atmosphere of a mountain region. Foreign visitors come to Yen Tu to witness a famous beauty spot, a mysterious tourist attraction. Many cultural and historical values are carefully preserved in Yen Tu, where is also home to a rare ecosystem in Vietnam.  

 Yearly, the festivities take place at the Cua Ong Temple from the second day of the first lunar month until the end of the third lunar month. Significance:   Cua Ong temple is dedicated to Tran Quoc Tang, the third son of Tran Hung Ðao, who defeated many enemies and brought peace to the region. Hoang Cau, a local general who fought bravely against invaders, is also honoured here. The festival dedicates to the merit of  Tran Quoc Tang and other Generals of Tran Dynasty.

Gau Tao and Long Tong festivals in Lao Cai

This highland province has the Gau Tao Festival of the H’Mong ethnic people from the third to the fifth day of the first lunar month, the Long Tong Festival of the Tay people in the rice fields near their village on the fifth or 15th day of the first lunar month, and the dancing festival of the Red Dao ethnic people on the first and second days of the new year.

Gia La Festival in Duong Noi Commune, Hoai Duc District, Hanoi is a famous festival, beginning from the sixth day to the 14th day of the first lunar month (Feb. 8 to 16); the Sai Temple Festival in Thuy Lam Commune, Dong Anh District, Hanoi on the 12th day of the first lunar month (Feb. 14); the Va Temple Festival in Trung Hung Commune, Son Tay Townlet, Hanoi on the 15th day of the first lunar month (Feb. 17) and the Tam Thanh Pagoda Festival in Lang Son City, Lang Son Province on the  15th day of the first lunar month (Feb. 17).
           Spring festivals in Vietnam are good opportunities for people to join nature, to relax. It is also occasion for foreigners to learn about Vietnamese Culture and Tradition. Applying Vietnam visa and joining Vietnamese festivals are advised for foreigners.

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