Nung’s New Year celebration and the meal to chase away bad luck

by VOV512 August 2016 Last updated at 10:10 AM

photo: VOV
photo: VOV - Like many other ethnic groups, the Nung’s New Year festival is the biggest event of the year.

They perform several rituals to say farewell to the old year and welcome the new year.

In this edition of Colorful Vietnam - Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups, we introduce the Nung Phan Sinh’s New Year celebration and their meal to chase away bad luck.

The New Year celebration of the Nung Phan Sinh begins with a meal to chase away the bad luck of the old year. The meal, which is prepared on the last day of the year, must have dishes made of duck.

Luong Van Bach, a Nung Phan Xinh man in Lang Son, said, “Our ancestors say that on the last day of the year we must eat duck to remove all misfortunes of the old year and welcome a new year. We pray for good health and peace and for the children to study well.”

Duck is prepared as several different dishes: roasted duck with honey and “mac mat”, a local aromatic, sweet plant; steamed duck with taro; boiled duck; and steamed duck with sour bamboo shoot.

They must eat up the duck dishes and leave not a single bite of duck for the new year.

Luong Chi Sung, a cultural official of Lang Son province, says the Nung don’t eat duck in the first lunar month or chicken in the 7th lunar month. If they violate this taboo, they will experience bad luck.

Besides preparing the last meal of the year, they also cook several dishes for the New Year celebration. Guests will have an opportunity to appreciate the house owner’s cooking skills.

Hoang Van To, a Nung Phan Sinh man, said, “Our Nung branch has some traditional rules for the New Year celebration. For the New Year’s meal we must have steamed glutinous rice, a boiled rooster, corn flakes, and sweet cakes made of glutinous rice flour.”

The Nung carefully clean the altar and incense-burners with scented water and decorate the altar with red paper.

The offering includes steamed glutinous rice, a well-cooked rooster, pork, cakes, sweets, fruits, and plants. They burn incense at the gate and near the kitchen.

On the last day of the old year and the first day of the new year, they make no fire outside their house.

All family members gather to enjoy the last meal of the old year and welcome the New Year’s Eve.

They offer incense on the ancestral altar and open all the doors and windows. The women go to the brook to fetch water, a symbolic gesture of bringing home some luck.

On the first day of the year, they neither sweep the house nor wash clothes, nor use a mortar and pestle. They don’t visit another’s house as they don’t want to share their luck.

The following day they visit their neighbors’ houses to wish them a happy new year. One healthy and well-respected farmer who has many children will visit all the families in the hamlet to wish them a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

This man, who is called the “welcome-spring-man”, sticks a piece of red paper on each barn to bless the animals with prolific reproduction. Every family warmly receives the “welcome-spring-man” and gives him lots of cakes and sweets.


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