Festivals & Folk Games

 

Overview of traditional festivals

Festive activities are living museums in which typical cultural values of the nation have been preserved for centuries.    (Detail)


 

Festival rituals

Festivals require many compulsory rituals, which are carried out in a strict order from the preparation to the ending of a festival. In general, a festival has the following rituals:    (Detail)


 

Rice cooking competitions (thi thoi com)

During Tet, a number of villages in northern and central Vietnam hold cooking contests that may sound simple, but follow strict and complex rules: Cooking in the wind and rain. Tu Trong Village, Thanh Hoa Province has a temple dedicated to the 11th century warrior Le Phung Hieu.    (Detail)


 

Spinning Tops (con quay)

In summertime, groups of children often play with tops along Hanoi’s streets and alleys. Their enthusiasm and happy laughter attract an audience, old and young, and remind older viewers of their younger days.    (Detail)


 

Bamboo Jacks (choi chuyen)

This girls' game (chơi chuyen) includes ten thin, well-sharpened, round bamboo sticks and a ball, which traditionally is a fig, a miniature variety of eggplant, a small rock or a clod of clay.    (Detail)


 

Kites that make music (dieu sao)

Kite flying is popular throughout the year in Viet Nam but especially so in summer. People of different ages make kites of many shapes, sizes and materials.    (Detail)


 

The game of squares (O an quan)

Either boys or girls, usually age’s seven to ten, play the two-person game of O an quan (literally "Mandarin's Box"). They draw a rectangle on the ground and divide it into ten small squares called "rice fields" or "fish ponds.    (Detail)


 

Cat and Mouse Game (meo duoi chuot)

Each game requires between seven and ten people. They stand in a circle, hold hands and raise their hands above their heads. Then they start singing the song.    (Detail)


 

The Game of the Dragon-Snake (rong ran)

A large group plays the children's game rong ran (dragon-snake). In One person sits on a small hill or some location above the other players; he or she acts as the doctor. The other children stand in a line, holding each other's belts to form the body of the dragon-snake.    (Detail)


 

Throwing a sacred ball through the ring (nem con)

Each ethnic group in Vietnam has unique ways of celebrating Tet. The Tay people of Cao Bang and Lang Son Provinces have a special Tet game that not only ushers in the spring but also serves as a matchmaker.    (Detail)

Releasing pigeons (tha chim)

A long with other traditional festival games, releasing pigeons has attracted numerous participants since the distant past. Some villages including Tam Giang and Hoan Son villages in Bac Ninh Province still maintain the tradition.    (Detail)


 

Human Chess

“Human chess” (co nguoi) is a popular game at village and temple festival. The game follows the general rules of Chinese chess. The concept is recognizably similar to Western chess, but with a different-sized board and different pieces, including cannons and guards, each of them marked with a distinct Chinese character.    (Detail)


 

Battle of the Chickens (choi ga)

Cock fighting, a long-standing form of popular entertainment, is organised during traditional festivals throughout Vietnam.    (Detail)


 

Nu Na Nu Nong

This is a girls’ chanting game. Several girls sit side by side with their legs stretched out. The head of the game recites a song; at each word, she uses her hand to touch another girl’s leg or foot.    (Detail)


 

Bamboo Swings (Danh Du)

Swings have been traditional game at village festivals for centuries. A Complete History of Dai Viet (Dai Viet su ky toan thu) states: "In the Ly Dynasty, in spring or the first lunar month, boys and girls get together and play this game".    (Detail)


 

The Pull of Natural Forces (keo co)

Villagers across Vietnam play various forms of tug of war (keo co). The game is always symbolically linked to the seasons, weather and crops. Tug of war is a popular game for both children and adults since it requires no particular skill or training.    (Detail)


 

The Art of Traditional Wrestling

On a beautiful spring day in Nam Dinh, a light breeze blows over the multicoloured traditional flags planted at the four corners of the arena where the finalists of the National Wrestling Championship are about to compete.    (Detail)


 

Vietnamese Rugby or Vat Cu

The rhythmic sound of a drum echoes for kilometers-vibrating, pressing, increasing in urgency. Any spectators arriving late from neighbouring villages hasten along their way. The crowd grows larger and larger around a flat piece of empty space in front of the village pagoda.    (Detail)


 

Blind Man’s Buff

Children between ages six and 15 enjoy playing bit mat bat de (“catching a goat while blindfolded”). One participant volunteers to play the “goat” and another, the “goat catcher”. Other players form a circle around the players.    (Detail)


 

Chanting While Sawing Wood (keo cua lua xe)

Both boys and girls play the game of keo cua lua xe. Two children sit opposite each other, holding each other’s hands tightly. While reciting a song, they push and pull each other’s arms and pretend as if they are sawing a piece of wood between them.    (Detail)

Viewing for Ball

The game of viewing for ball is a ritual in some festivals or a custom in others. Its names and rules can be different from locality to locality. It is an activity wishing for bumper crops of the peasants.    (Detail)


 

Word arrangement

This game develops in Hoa Lu, Tam Ðiêp (Ninh Bình). A word-arrangement team includes 32 boys under 15 years old. They wear blue trousers, leggings, and white shirts with red hem.    (Detail)


 

Boat racing

From time immemorial, boat racing has appeared in Vietnam. It is not only a competition but also a ritual in honour of the Water God, stemming from the act of praying for water among agricluture-based people.    (Detail)