A wide range of cultural activities to reveal the depth of traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) celebrations will take place at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel from January 24. The programmes for children will run until January 27.
Children in Ha Noi will enjoy an early celebration of the festival through folk games, such as tugs of war and swings. Along with games, children can try their hands at making banh chung (glutinous square cakes) and li xi (lucky money envelope).
They will also learn to print and paint folk paintings and write calligraphy once use as good luck decorations during Tet.
Together with the festival, an exhibition will be held until February 24 introducing visitors to a traditional Vietnamese Tet celebration and typical worshipping space for the occasion 100 years ago. This will be done through a display of wood carvings of French researcher Henri Oger and documents from France’s Albert Kahn Museum.
Ancient painting genres from across the country, including Hang Trong and Kim Hoang in downtown and on the outskirts of Ha Noi, respectively, and Dong Ho in the northern province of Bac Ninh, are also showcased.
Kim Hoang is a common name given to folk paintings printed on yellow and red paper. It was invented in the second half of the 18th century and strongly developed since the 19th century at Kim Hoang village in Van Canh commune in Ha Noi’s suburban district of Hoai Duc.
The subjects in Kim Hoang paintings are taken from the plain and ordinary lives of the citizens of the Red River Delta, so they easily win people’s hearts. Each painting has familiar sights of animals as well as depicting daily life, Lunar New Year holidays and the worship of the Kitchen Gods.
Hang Trong folk painting genre is traditionally produced on paper with one carved woodblock inked in black to give an outline that is then filled in with different colours by hand. Its artistic cousin, Dong Ho, is produced by a series of woodblocks, each carrying a different colour.
Highlight of the programme is a ceremony setting up cay neu (the New Year’s tree) on February 7, which is one of the activities drawing visitors’ special attention, according to Nguyen Thanh Quang, vice director of the Centre for Thang Long Heritage Conversation.
“Vietnamese people have a custom of erecting a bamboo pole in front of their house on the last day of the lunar year to expel evil, worship deities and pray for good luck for the New Year,” he said. “People remove it on the seventh day of the Lunar New Year to say farewell to their ancestors in heaven.”
New Year’s Eve this year will fall on February 16. From February 18 to 20, various art performances will take place, including martial arts, water puppetry, folk singing and dance.
Trinh Van Binh, 70, and his troupe from My Duc district on the outskirts of Ha Noi, will perform tứ linh (four sacred animals: dragon, kylin, phoenix and tortoise) dance, one of the traditional dances of ancient Thang Long, the former name of Ha Noi
“Our group of 25 people will perform dances and play music. We desire to uphold the tradition of the homeland despite old age.”