Culture

Hanoian selfies charm of Tet in rural Vietnam

A Hanoi content creator captures the charms of Lunar New Year (Tet) with a photo collection featuring himself in a rural setting.

The photo collection is presented by YouTube account “Huong Vi Que Huong” (Flavor of Hometown), featuring channel owner Tho, a senior, gray-haired man with a warm smile.

The channel is loved by many people for its aesthetic presentation of the countryside in the northern region. It has garnered over 750,000 YouTube subscribers and many videos have topped a million views.

Tho’s photographs present a nostalgic picture for many, helping them recall their childhood in rural areas during Tet, the most important festival of the year in Vietnam.

This year, the Lunar New Year begins on February 12. The festival is a time when millions of families reunite, usually in their countryside homes.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

The custom of manually wrapping the banh chung, a square-shaped pack of sticky rice with meat and bean fillings wrapped in green leaves, is still maintained by many families in the rural areas. They soak the rice, marinate pork pieces with lean and fatty meat for the fillings, wash the green leaves , prepare the green beans filling and cooking the cake for hours.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

“To be able to make delicious and beautiful square banh chung, the cooks have to pay attention to every detail, from the rationing of mung beans and sticky-rice to the right method of folding the leaf, making sure everything is tightly wrapped without pressing it too much. The leaves should have the right shade of green, the sticky rice the right level of sweetness, the mung bean with the right aroma and the meat that is properly fatty and rich,” Tho said.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

Banh chung is not just a traditional food, it reminds Vietnamese to never forget their ancestors and their origins. Cooking the cake also brings back childhood memories for many people, when kids were eager to join both the cooking and the eating of banh chung during warm reunions.”

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

Many families will take out a big vessel to start cooking banh chung two days before the Lunar New Year. TheTet pecialty is associated with a legend that carries profound meanings about the world and human existence.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

The ancestral altar in every household is a site for venerating and praying to all ancestors as well as other deities. The alter is adorned with a lot of fruits and other foods to invite abundance into the house.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

Tho uses a duster on an old television set.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

Tho cradles a grandchild. Many grandparents in the country take care of their grandchildren in rural areas because the parents have to work far away and are too busy to tend to their kids. Every member of such family eagerly awaits a Tet reunion.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

Tho says the traditional nem ran (fried spring rolls) should include grated carrot. Some people believe its color will bring in good luck during the New Year.

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

A Tet meal in the northern countryside will be not complete without some dua cai muoi chua (fermented vegetables).

Vietnam, Hanoi, countryside, rural areas, Tet, Lunar New Year, traditions, customs, family reunion, banh chung

A typical food tray in a rural household during the Lunar New Year will always have banh chung, cha lua (Vietnamese pork bologna), spring rolls and some fermented vegetables.