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Vietnamese new year with Banh Chung & Banh Tet

Tet or Vietnamese New Year brings a unique cultural celebration to the people of Vietnam. The festival aims to celebrate the first day of the year and spring in a traditional way. There are many exciting facts associated with Vietnamese New Year. On this event, people get to eat delicious cakes like Banh Chung and Banh Tet.

Here is a brief account of how people in Vietnam welcome the spring and New Year by remembering their centuries old traditions.

Vietnamese New Year

Vietnamese New Year is based upon the lunisolar calendar. It utilizes the calculation of Earth’s movement around the Sun and Moon’s movement around the Earth. The new year arrives usually in late January or early February. In 2018, Vietnamese New Year will fall on February 16. The New Year in Vietnam often coincides with Chinese New Year. Each year carries the name of an animal as a symbol. 2017 was a rooster year, 2018 has dog as symbol and 2019 will have pig as symbol.

Banh Chung on New Year’s Eve

Vietnamese New Year celebrations are as unique as the events like Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade. They are incomplete with traditional cuisines like Banh Chung and Banh Tet which are delicious rice cakes. These dishes are not famous for being tasty but also for their process of making. An entire Vietnamese family sits around the wooden fire and for making the square shaped cake rapped in Bamboo leaves. Banh Tet is also a cake but it is cylindrical in shape and utilizes the banana leaves wrapping. It is also available throughout the year, but its use becomes more popular on New Year’s Eve.

Vietnamese New Year

Tradition of Banh Chung

Origins of Banh Chung (cake) are also fascinating. Legends reveal that the cake dates back to 3000-4000 years ago. A prince of Hung dynasty, whose name was Lang Lieu made this cake in an attempt to contest for the new emperor.  He made round shaped cakes, that symbolized the sky and square shaped cakes that symbolized the Earth (Vietnamese in that era, perceived the Earth to be square in shape). Now the Vietnamese people make a Banh Chung every lunar New Year to honour the Prince.

Preparing the Banh Chung

Recipe of Banh Chung and Banh Tet is almost same, except few alterations. The process of making Banh Chung is lengthy and often requires more than one day. The rice used in the recipe have to be soaked for an entire previous day. In fact, this is the making of Banh Chung that offers a true spirit of Vietnamese New Year celebrations; it lets the family members to come closer, sit together around the wooden fire and tell tales to each other. The general ingredients of Banh Chung include rice, water, pork and bamboo leaves that act as a wrapping around the cake of water-soaked rice and pork. Vietnamese people like to eat the Banh Chung and Banh Tet with vegetables pickle.

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