Soup is customarily served for breakfast in Vietnam--big bowls of
steaming noodle soup, with meat and any number of ingredients added at
the last minute, like bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, chili peppers,
lime slices, and green onions. All, of course, spiced with with plenty
of fish sauce (nuoc mam), chili-garlic sauce, and/or hoisin sauce in
nearby dipping dishes. It's an unusual melange of cooked rice noodles,
raw vegetables and herbs, and shaved raw meat or seafood that cooks in
the broth just as it's brought to table.
Phˇ, as it's known, is now hugely popular in the United
States--and people line up at the doors of Phˇ restaurants night and
day to sit at trencher tables and feast on the soup til sweat pours
down the backs of their heads. The term phˇ translates as "your
own bowl," since it's one of the few meals where the food is not
passed around and shared.
"Small" soups, by contrast, are served as first
courses--they generally don't have noodles; they're served in small
portions; and they're called sup. The famous Sup Mang Tay, or Crab and
Asparagus Soup is in this category--so is Sup Nam Trang, a
fascinatingly complex soup of crab, shrimp, and dried white fungus (mushroomlike).
Finally, the class of soups known as Canh are generally served
family style, out of one big bowl--often spooned into smaller bowls at
table with rice. And they are generally light--also served as a first
course to whet the appetite. These include Canh Sa Lach Soan
(Watercress-Shrimp Soup), Canh Chua Tom (Hot and Sour Shrimp and
Lemongrass Soup), and Canh Chua Ca (Hot and Sour Tamarind Fish Soup).
But what about soups for snacks? Foodwriter Thy Tran from San
Francisco at her website www.wanderingspoon.com writes "the
Vietnamese enjoy sweet bean soups as snacks. The whole class is known
as che, but they each have a specific name that usually reveals the
color of the bean: che dau den (black bean), che dau trang
("white bean," or what we know here as black-eyed peas),
even che dau xanh ("green beans," referring to the green
covering on mung beans). Coconut milk, lotus seeds, taro root,
tapioca, even crunchy seaweed are common additions. Western Vietnamese
restaurants sometimes offer them as dessert, but they're really meant
for snacking, which South East Asians love to do. You can serve che
warm or chilled."
Thy adds, "Interestingly, the idea of using beans in savory
dishes (other than sprouts) is not as natural for most Vietnamese
people. Just like when I told my family, while sipping artichoke tea
in Saigon, that in the States we serve the whole vegetable as a
delicacy, they were horrified."
TET New Year
Tet Nguyen Dan, is the lunar New year Festival and it is the most
important Vietnamese holiday. Tet is the celebration of the beginning
of spring as well as a new year. It is the time for family reunions,
exchanging gifs, best wishes and the beginning of a new year.
Literally, Tet Nguyen Dan means the first morning of the first day
of the new period. Officially, Tet marks the beginning of a new year
on the lunar calendar. In reality, it is a friendly, festive, family
holiday. Painstaking care is given to starting the year out right,
since it is beleived the first day and the first week of the new year
will determine the fortunes or misfortunes for the rest of the year.
In order to start the new year right and set the best precedent,
Vietnamese houses are painted and cleaned. New clothes are purchased
for the first day of Tet and old debts should be paid and great care
is taken to avoid arguments. Asian families exchange visits. The first
visitor to the house on the first morning of Tet is very important.
Particular care is taken to arrange in advance to have the visitor be
rich, happy, and prestigious.
The holiday is also observed by a family visit to the church or
pagoda to pray for good fortune and happiness. A sprig of the yellow
blossomed. HOA MAI, is used to decorate the home. Tet officially lasts
for seven days and ends with LE KHAI HA ritual during which CAY NEU is
The New Year does not fall on the same date each year, although it
is always in January or February. The Tet holiday is officially three
days but is often celebrated for seven. It is believed that the course
of the few days of Tet will determine the path of the coming year.
People are on their best behavior. People stop their quarreling,
children vow to behave, and families make special efforts to gather
together. Prior to the celebrations homes are cleaned and painted.
However cleaning during Tet is avoided. The yellow blossoms of the Hoa
Mai decorate the home
New clothes are purchased and old debts are paid. Deceased
relatives are also remembered during Tet. Families build alters with
photographs, flowers, incense, money, and food. People typically visit
the gravesites of deceased loved ones. At the midnight hour of the New
Years' Eve Le Tru Tich is held. The spirits of the old year are rushed
out and the new spirits are welcomed.
The first person to enter the home after the start of the New Year
sets the precedence for the coming year. Many people will arrange to
have a child or someone well off enter the home minutes after the
start of the New Year. Food is enjoyed throughout the Tet holiday. One
belief holds tht when a watermelon is cut open the redder the flesh
the more luck the family will have in the Tet New Year. In the United
States women and girls will often wear the colors of the Vietnamese
Flag, red and yellow and men will wear black.
Popular cultural festivals of Vietnam
The 2nd day of the 1st month: Wrestling Festival in Lieu Doi, Nam
Ha. The 5th day of the 1st month: Festival of Dong Da hill, Hanoi:
celebrate the anniversary of King Quang Trung's victory over 290,000
Qing invaders to liberate Thang Long (now Hanoi). The 6th day of the
1st month: Festival of Eel-Catching in Pot in Ving Lac district, Vinh
Phu province. This reflects the farmers' love for labor and the joy
over bumper crops. The 10th day of the 1st month: Festival in Trieu
Khuc village, Hanoi. Cultural activities of a traditional handicraft
village. The 13th day of the 1st month: Lim Festival, Ha Bac. Festival
of quan ho folk song singing. Boys and girls meet on river bank, on
hill or in the yards of village's communal house and pagoda and
exchange emotions. The 15th day of the 1st month: Festival of Spring
on Ba Den mountain. The 15th of 2nd month (formal date): Festival of
Huong Pagoda, Ha Tay: Traditional festival lasting over 2 months.
Spring festival of buffalo fighting in Tay Nguyen Highlands
highlighting the martial spirit of the ethnic minority people. The
10th day of the 3rd month: Festival of Hung Temple celebrating the
death a anniversary of Kings Hung. The 9th day of the 4th month: Giong
Festival, Hanoi, commemorating Saint Giong, a legendary child hero who
defeated foreign invasion and saved the nation. The 26th day of the
4th month: Festival of Queen Su in Chau Doc. The 5th day of the 5th
month: Water Festival in Nha Trang. People in the city go to the beach
and have a bath for health improvement. The 16th day of the 6th month:
Festival of Nghinh Ong in Tien Giang - Ben Tre. The 30th day of the
7th month: Festival at Lang Ong, Ho Chi Minh City. The 9th day of the
8th month: Buffalo fighting festival, Do Son, Hai Phong. The 13th day
of the 9th month: Festival of Keo Pagoda, Thai Binh. Traditional
communal festival. The 22nd day of the 11th month: Festival of Dong
Quan in Chan Tien Pagoda, Hanoi.
Ba Den Mountain Festival Vietnam
One cannot visit Vietnamĺs Tay Ninh without going to Nui Ba, a
beautiful high mountain located in the middle of the MeKong Delta,
11km from Tay Ninh. Nui Ba Mountain is often called Lady Den Mountain
after the devoted daughter of a Vietnamese guard officer. She left her
father's house and went to the mountain to become a monk after she was
forced to marry a guard officer's son. She later died in Nui Ba. The
Nguyen dynasty had a bronze statue made in her honor and gave her the
title Linh Son Thanh Mau, or Saint Linh Son.
On the afternoon of the 30th of the last lunar month until the 2nd
lunar month, tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and other southern
provinces go on a pilgrimage to the Lady Den Mountain.
Pilgrims and visitors have to climb halfway up of the mountain to
enter Saint Linh Son Temple. This pagoda offers vegetarian meals in
exchange for which visitors can make a donation to the pagoda.
Visitors can also stay in the pagoda for a few days. The monks are
well known for taking excellent care of their visitors.
Visitors to this Vietnam landmark can also climb up to the top of
the mountain, where a Saint Temple is located. During Spring, people
from Vietnamĺs southern provinces visit this temple as a ritual;
everyone believes that Lady Den Temple can fulfill the intellectual
needs of spiritual people.
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival Vietnam
Although the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival is officially held on
the 9th of the 8th lunar month in Hai Phong,Vietnam, preparations
start several months before. Fighting buffaloes must be carefully
selected, well fed, and trained. The selection of the official
fighting buffaloes starts in May when qualification matches take place
in small villages. Only 6 buffaloes will participate in the final
The festival begins with a procession to the communal house where
offerings from several little villages are presented to the gods; such
gifts include a buffalo, a pig, and a basket of sticky rice. The
procession, in which the buffaloes are covered with red cloth, also
includes 12 young Vietnamese men, also dressed in red, who take the
buffaloes to the fighting circle.
After the young men perform the "Opening the match"
dance, a pair of buffaloes are led into the fighting circle. The two
buffaloes fight until the defeated gives up and run away. The winner
then goes on to fight another buffalo until a final winner is
Quan The Am Vietnam Cultural Festival
The Quan The Am Cultural Festival is organized on the 19th day of
the second month (lunar calendar) every year with cultural activities
which help restore and promote the traditional culture of Viet Nam.
The festival is held on Ngu Hanh mountain, in Danang City, Vietnam.
The Quan The Am Festival was first organized in 1962, for the
inauguration of the Avalokiesvara Buddhisattava statue in Hoa Nghiem
cave at Thuy Son Mount, in the Marble Mountains of Vietnam. The same
year, the festival was reorganized in Kim Son cave after the
construction of the Quan The Am Pagoda on the Kim Son Mount. Until
1991, this festival was organized annually on a large scale and
celebrations lasted for three entire days.
The Quan The Am Festival consists of two parts: the religious
ceremony and the festival itself. The ceremony, similar to Buddhist
rituals, consists of flower offerings and prayers. The
Dharma-preaching sessions about Avalakiesvara Buddhisattava are also
Several cultural activities bearing the national colors of Vietnam,
such as singing folk songs, chess playing, music, painting, carving,
lion dancing, offering lamps on the river, and classical opera also
take place. The Quan The Am Festival is organized on the 19th day of
the second lunar month; this festival, as well as many others, is held
in an attempt to restore and promote the traditional culture of Vietnam.
Tay Nguyen Elephant Race Festival
The Tay Nguyen Elephant Race festival is celebrated in the Spring,
in the 3rd lunar month. It is usually held in Don village or in
forests near the Sevepoi River, in Dak Lak province. For travelers to
Vietnam this is a must see event.
At the signal , the mahouts take their elephants to the start line
.Once the start command is given, all the elephants rush to the
exciting beat of the drums and gongs, accompanied by the viewers
cheering. The winning elephant waves to the audience with its trunk.
The elephant will often take this opportunity to flap its ears gently
and to give tender looks to receive sugar cane from the viewers.
Elephant races are the biggest festival to take place in the middle
highlands. It bears the martial spirit of M'nong ethnic groups, which
is very famous for bravery and experience in hunting wild
Cau Ngu Cultural Festival
This traditional festival of Thai Duong village, Huong Hai commune,
in Huong Dien district is organized every year on the 12th of the 1st
lunar month in memory of the village tutelary genie Truong Quy Cong,
alias Truong Thieu. He was a native from North Vietnam who settled in
Thai Duong and taught the locals fishing and trading.
Late in the night, a ceremony to pray for peace and abundant
catches of fish takes place. Once every three years, games
representing sea fishing activities are organized. After these games,
all people watch rowing competitions.
Net-casting is a form of entertainment imbued with ritual character
to commemorate the merits of the village tutelary spirit.
The Huong Perfume Pagoda Festival Vietnam
The Huong Pagoda , also called the Huong Pagada , is lacated in
Huong Son , Ha Tay , 70 km away from Hanoi. Although the Huong Pagoda
Festival is officially celebrated on the 15th of the second lunar
month .Visitors can reach that area in Vietnam either by road or river
The Perfume Pagoda Festival consists of enjoyable sightseeing trips
to different Vietnamese pagodas , temples , and caves . This festival
also features ceremonies held in the different temples and pagodas .
People go to Vietnamĺs Huong Pagoda not only for the religious
services ,but also to observe the beautiful natural scenery of
The Ao Dai Dress
The northern-4-flap dress is Vietnam's first "ao dai",
only worn on the occasion of the Tet festival. The brown dress with
the two fore-flaps tied together and let dangling matches with satin
trousers and silk belts. Then the 4 flap dress has been modified into
a 3-flap one: the collar being 2 cm high, the sleeves wrapping tightly
to the wrists, breast and waist of main flaps, there is also a minor
flap reaching down to the fringe. Buttons are made of plaited cloth
and buttoned on the side. The collar is turned up obliquely to let
appear three color (or 7 colors ) of the dress. The outermost layer is
of brown silk or a kind of black gauze, followed by light yellow,
pink, lemon green, and sky-blue... multicolored ones...., attractive
yet decent, discrete and harmonious... Following the Europeanization
wave in 1935, Lemur Nguyen Cat Tuong's "modern ao dai" made
its apparition. It had puffed out shoulders, cuffed sleeves, a round
collar cut breast-deep and laced, a corrugated fringe made of joined
cloth of different colors and gaudily laced. During the 1939-1945
period there was a conflict on a esthetic concept, resulting in the
restoration of the traditional ao dai. Young girls' collar was from 4
cm to 7 cm high, the roundness of which was ensured by a stipt
starching, the flaps were of a broad width and of a 1958 and the
beginning of 1959, Madam Ngo Dinh Nhu's low-necked, decollete ao dai
was launched. At the beginning of 1971, the raglan-sleeve ao dai
renovated by Mrs. Tuyet Mai overcame the wrinkling short comings at
the shoulders and the armpits. From the early 1970's to 1975 it was
the period at mini and hippy ao dai widely worn with tights and flares
until 1989. The first ao dai beauty contest was restored under the
communist regime since 1975 and the traditional ao dai returned to its
suave beauty of old times. All young ladies were encouraged to wear
the white ao dai to school which has been banned since 1975 after the
falling of Saigon. All such contests as school beauty, sports beauty
has been organized everywhere in the country, ao dai is the main
category in these contests. Now only the Tien Phong Newspaper beauty
contest is considered the official national contest and who is crowned
from this contest become the national beauty queen and she will
represent the country in all diplomatic occasions. This contest has
been official started in 1992 and repeated every two year sine then (
1994, 1996, 1998).
* Ha Kieu Anh, Miss Vietnam 1992-1993 * Nguyen Thu Thuy, Miss
Vietnam 1994-1995 * Nguyen Thien Nga, Miss Vietnam 1996-1997 * Nguyen
Thi Dong Khanh, Miss Vietnam 1998-1999
The year 1995 was the crowing year for the national ao dai. Truong
Quynh Mai's ao dai was chosen the most beautiful national apparel in
Tokyo... The 1995 renovated ao dai model suits well modern times, and
is more beautiful at it's tightened at the breast, waist and back, its
collar evenly circling round from 4 cm to 7 cm high, the sleeves just
tighten the arms. Velvet ao dai, embroidered, painted and printed with
flower pattern have created even more exquisite beauty features
allowing Vietnam's ao dai to take off ever higher.