Known as an attractive destination of stunning natural landscapes, hospitable locals, and unique cuisine, Vietnam is also such a hit with tourists for its diversified cultural values and activities. If you have a chance to travel to Vietnam, especially during Tet holiday, your trip will be much more exciting when you join lots of folk games in festivals throughout the country.
In the traditional festivals on Tet holiday of Vietnam, besides ceremonial and sacred rituals, one of the indispensable activities bearing cultural identity is folk games. Folk games such as dragon dance, tug of war, cockfighting, playing and singing folk songs or puppets not only encourage physical health or players’ skills but contribute to the raising the community spirit and solidarity and the preservation of traditional values as well.
There are many things to do in Vietnam, but ignoring these amusing activities will be a big pity.
Cockfighting (Choi Ga)
Cockfighting is an elegant pleasure that has attracted a large number of people from rural to urban areas, from the elderly to the young, regardless of the rich or poor. Cockfighting sticking with the life of Vietnamese people through the history of thousands of years has gradually ingrained in thought and become a beauty in the traditional culture of this country.
Cockfighting is both an entertaining activity and a form of nourishing the spirit of martial arts and solidarity that existed in the old villages. Up to now, there are still many ancient villages in Vietnam using this game as a customary custom every spring.
Traditional cockfighting is most popular in Southern Vietnam. It is often held in a vacant lot or soccer field, then people draw a circle to make the arena with fence surrounding. A match is calculated by a burning incense. For the owners of the cocks, their greatest pleasure and pride is when their chickens come to the battlefield to win another famous chicken as such games are widely spoken and respected.
Many famous villages for cockfighting such as Dinh Bang, Tho Ha, Yen Phu, and Yen Phong in Bac Ninh Province or some other places throughout the country.
Tug of War (Keo Co)
Tug of War is widely practiced in the rice agriculture of East and Southeast Asia, with the expectation of rain, wind, bumper crops or predictions regarding success or failure of agriculture. Depending on each member country, rituals and tug of war games are held at the national level or in certain regions.
Tug of War is a collective game, popular in many places in Vietnam, which strengthens the health and brings joy. Simple rule, the number of players can be as many as you want. Participants will be evenly divided into two groups, and everyone can join this game. The lime mark to which side dragged the opponent to cross the mark on the other side will be the winner.
Tug of War is usually practiced in the Red River Delta and the North Central with the centers of Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, and Hanoi – the land of the ancient settlement of Vietnamese people and the cradle of wet rice civilization.
Amazingly, in 2015, UNESCO registered rituals and tug-of-war games in Vietnam on the list of intangible cultural heritage representatives of humanity along with some other countries such as Cambodia, Korea, and the Philippines. This is also the first multinational heritage site in Vietnam to be submitted and approved.
Wrestling (Dau Vat)
This is a favorite folk game representing the strong martial art of Vietnamese people against nature and invaders. And now it is a very popular sport in Lunar New Year. In order to encourage talents as well as the practice of boys, many villages held very high prizes during the three days of the festival. In the old days, people were rewarded with money, copper plates, copper pots or some other stuff.
The general rule is that the winner must object to the opponent's white belly (back to the ground) or lift the enemy up. Technically, there are "pads" of to defeat the enemy such as padding, loading, pinching or conditions of the wrestler that they must take full advantage of the time throwing or knocking out to be the winner. Therefore, wrestling requires not only health but agility and agility as well.
Rice Cooking Competition (Thoi Com Thi)
Rice Cooking Contest reflects the bold life of Vietnamese farmers. Depending on the local customs, the competition is held in a different place, but it is not just a game on the festival. The winning product is considered a valuable item to worship their spirit. With the view of farmers, rice cooking contest is a game to show their respect for rice and improve the processing of the most important agricultural product that saves their lives and their generations for centuries.
Thoi Com Thi
Of course, if you want to have boiled rice (Com), you need raw rice (Gao) and know how to cook. Although it not very difficult, if participants do not learn, they cannot cook well. And more importantly, it is where solidarity lights and gets people closer to each other. But whatever and wherever the competition takes place, the winner must always be fast and delicious, regardless of circumstances.
You can pay a visit to Canh Thuy (Bac Giang Province), Cao Dai (Nam Dinh Province), Dao Xa (Phu Tho Province) or the suburbs of Hanoi like Phuc Tho or Son Tay to observe and even ask to join these useful contests.
Folk games are also a unique culture value that Vietnamese people are trying to preserve as they reflect the ancient people’s life, Vietnamese spirit, their solidarity and their strength in the conduction and protection of Vietnam nation. Let spend your time and have a meaningful Vietnam holiday.