Tet Doan Ngo - Mid-year Festival
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Tet Doan Ngo or Tet Doan Duong, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, is a traditional New Year day in Vietnam as well as some East Asian countries such as Korea and China. The Mid-year Festival has existed for a long time in Eastern folklore and has influenced cultural activities.

Tet Doan Ngo or Tet Doan Duong, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, is a traditional New Year day in Vietnam as well as in some East Asian countries such as Korea and China. The Mid-year Festival has existed for a long time in Eastern folklore and has influenced cultural activities.

In Vietnam, people also call Worm-killing Festival. Tet Doan Ngo in Vietnam is also known as Worm-killing Festival, the day of launching to catch and kill pests for crops in the field, in which many pests can be eaten and they are considered nutritious. It is believed that when eating the first dish of the day, worms in the body will die. The legend of the history of the 5th of May is passed down differently in Vietnam and China. In Vietnamese culture, the 5th of the 5th of the fifth lunar month is the anniversary of the death of National Mother Au Co. In the folklore, there is a saying:

Doan Duong Festival Day in May.

Death anniversary of the of Vietnamese Mother Van Lang.

In the southern plains of Vietnam, May 5 is also known as "Via Ba" day, worshiping Linh Son Holy Mother on Ba Den Mountain. In Vietnam, May 5 is also considered the "New Year of killing insects" because in the period of changing seasons, changing periods, epidemics are easy to arise. On this day there is a custom of "killing insects" by early morning without eating or drinking anything, only eating seasonal fruits and glutinous-rice wine. Children are gifted amulet bags with rice crumbs of all colors stitched into peach, cinnamon, kumquat... shape tie only the five-color tassel (called the bag-tassel charm), the nails are dyed red with leaves (except for the index finger and toes adjacent to the big toe), apply a red medicine with yellow into the spleen, into the chest, into the belly button... to exorcise the evil spirit of disease. In this festival, families have worshiped ancestors, offerings have both vegetarian and normal foods. The bridegroom has to buy gifts for his parents-in-law on this day, which there are often things: goose, watermelon, or green beans with sand sugar. Students also visit teachers, offerings in general as well as above. In some rural areas, at Ngo hour (12 noon) on May 5 many people also pick leaves for medicine, because they believe that the leaves picked at this time, even if they are just ordinary leaves such as lemon leaves, grapefruit leaves, meridians, perilla, wormwood, lotus..., become much more effective. However, recently, the traditional Vietnamese customs in this ceremony are no longer respected.


Tet Doan Ngo begins at noon.

On the day of Worm-killing Festival, Vietnamese often worship in the early morning. However, in fact, Doan Ngo period is conducted at noon time on May 5 of the lunar calendar. The origin of this day is related to the death of Khuat Nguyen, an official of So (ancient China) more than 2.000 years ago. Khuat Nguyen for failing in dissuading So Hoai Vuong, being dismissed as a citizen, then returning to his hometown. His sister Tu married far away, heard the news and immediately came to visit. Seeing Khuat Nguyen with his hair down, his face smeared and emaciated while reading poetry on the river bank, she said: "King So does not listen to you but you have been wholehearted, why worry? Fortunately, you have a farm. Why not do the farming and feed yourself for the rest of your life?” Khuat Nguyen lamented: "The fact that King So has come like this, I cannot bear to see the nation destroyed. My whole life I have been alone. ” Then one day, Khuat Nguyen got up early, hugged a stone, and drowned himself in the Mich La River. It is the 5th day of May of the lunar calendar. When the villagers heard the news, they raced to bring a small boat to the rescue, but it was too late. They made glutinous rice cakes and threw them into the river as offerings. Dragon boat racing in Ngo So area also originates from there. According to legend, Khuat Nguyen's field later on producing white rice like jade, called "jade rice field". The name of the village he lived in was called the village of "Ty Quy", that is, "his sister returned".


Vietnamese people call this day Worm-killing Festival because most of farmers start killing worms in their rice fields and orchards. Vietnamese ancestors had told us a story about Doi Truan who taught farmers how to kill a lot of worms eating almost fruits and rice. He offered Banh gio (Pyramid sticky rice cake), and fruits to Gods in front of a house and did exercises. He told that if farmers did the same things on the same day every year, all worms will be weaker and killed easily. The man had disappeared after helping kill worms. Nowadays, grandparents tell their children about stories and teach them to be grateful to their ancestors and their country’s traditions.

Positive yang day

According to the yin and yang theory of the five elements, Ngo is classified into Ly, belonging to the Fire element. In one day, the highest Yang is Ngo (high noon). In a month, the sun is highest on the days of Ngo, especially the first day of Ngo (the beginning of the month). During the year, Yang is highest in the month of Ngo (May). Thus, the Yang peak at the Ngo hour of the first Ngo day in the month of Ngo. But why do people choose May 5 without choosing the first Ngo day of May to kill insects?

The first thing is to make it easy for people to remember.

- Second is in memory of Khuat Nguyen.

- Third is according to the ancient calendar, this day of spring is over, start of summer. The transition between the two seasons can cause weather sickness in humans. Pests, insects are also given the opportunity to grow, causing disease to people, pets and plants. Therefore, in this period, people make an offering of incense for harmful insects to be exterminated, people recover from the accident, get the harvest.

- Wednesday, May 5 is the day of the anode or close to the anode, people as well as things need to store energy to resist the high anode of heaven and earth. They need to eat some fruits or energy-rich foods such as boiled eggs, wine, sweet soup, porridge, rice paper cake, drinking wine... to open the nine natural holes in the body, to circulate the air with the heavens and the earth. Many people also eat fruits with a sour taste such as plums with the implication of reducing the intensity of Can (liver gas), limiting the adverse effects on the heart and blood vessel system. Many people think that on Tet Doan Ngo, trees will store many medicinal substances to combat harsh yang. Therefore, many doctors organize to pick medicine at noon on May 5 to expect higher efficiency.

Experience Guide:

What are the customs of Doan Ngo (May 5)?

In Vietnam, Tet Doan Ngo is respected and ranked second after the Lunar New Year. That's why people often say, “Fifth day is Tet holiday.” Students visiting teachers, and husbands visiting parents-in-law... All year round, we just focus on those two Tet. Doan Duong Festival still has many traditions handed down to this day; early in the morning, children eat fruits, glutinous-rice wine, boiled eggs, apply a medicine that is red and yellow to the tip of the head, to the chest, to the navel to kill pests. Adults kill insects by drinking alcohol or eating glutinous-rice wine. Children finish killing insects while sitting on the bed, then wash their noses and limbs, then begin to dye their nails and toenails, wearing five-color threads. The girl who reached the age of ear piercing also chose this day to pierce. Because of this, the worship of the ancestor must be at noon. The practice of picking medicine on the fifth day also begins at noon, which is the hour with the best yang in the whole year, the leaves of the grass harvested in that hour have a good healing effect, especially the extrasensory disorders, the necrosis. People pick any kind of leaves available in the garden, in the area, as long as there are hundreds of them, more or less. However, our people are used to using herbs to treat diseases, and know how to distinguish poisonous types, such as finger leaves, poisonous tomatoes, and cassava leaves... even a man with a superstitious mind will not pluck it up. In contrast, common healing herbs that have the effect of excluding the beneficial atmosphere are more plucked such as sample, wormwood, lemongrass, zucchini, marjoram, bamboo leaves, grapefruit leaves, orange, lemon, tangerine, jackfruit, onion, garlic, ginger, tea, guava, betel, dandelion, lotus, logan,...

On this day, some people believe that if they take a bath in water cooked with some special leaves, they can be protected from sickness, unluckiness, ghosts, and devils. People in some regions bathe in the sea at noon to cleanse their minds, body and soul with seawater to start new life on future days. It’s a chance for family members who are working far from home to come back to see each other, sit around tables and enjoy lots of delicious traditional foods cooked by skillful women in their families. 

Vịt được bán rất nhiều tại các chợ ở Huế vào dịp Tết Đoan Ngọ

Ducks are sold a lot at markets in Hue during the Lunar New Year - Photo: Dantri Newspaper

With the sophistication in food processing, Hue people always know how to create many delicious and attractive dishes from one food source. With duck meat, dishes such as duck porridge, boiled duck dipped in ginger fish sauce, duck vermicelli with bamboo shoots, roasted duck, etc. are always popular with Hue people. The most popular dish is still boiled duck with ginger fish sauce served with raw vegetables.

The combination of this dish is extremely reasonable and attractive. Because duck, according to Oriental medicine, is cold, it is appropriate to use it in hot weather, then when processing, housewives once again combine "hot and cold" between duck and ginger to create a delicious dish. not only delicious but also nutritious!

Thịt vịt được người dân xứ Huế chế biến thành nhiều món ăn hấp dẫn như cháo vịt…

Dishes made from ducks

Up to now, besides the Lunar New Year Holiday, Doan Ngo Festival plays a significant role in every Vietnamese’s life, carrying with it practical and holy meanings. If you come to enjoy the atmosphere of Doan Ngo, you will get to know more about its value and spirits.