Cultural fest to usher in Tet at Hue citadel

By Hoang Phong   January 15, 2020 | 01:47 am PT
Cultural fest to usher in Tet at Hue citadel
Hue's Complex of Monuments, a UNESCO heritage site. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
The Hue Imperial Citadel in the central town of Hue will host a fortnight-long cultural fest recalling Tet traditions during the feudal era.

The festival, held January 17-31, will include a ritual ceremony erecting the cay neu (Tet bamboo pole) at the Trieu Mieu and The Mieu temples and Long An Palace on January 17 (the 23rd day of the last lunar month), according to the Hue Monuments Conservation Center.

The Lunar New Year holiday, Tet, is Vietnam’s biggest and most important festival. 

The long bamboo pole is traditionally placed in front of the house to prevent evils from invading the house’s spirit, especially on the 23rd day of the last lunar month, when the Kitchen God leaves the house to submit his report to the Jade Emperor in heaven.

According to historical records, during the reign of King Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), a number of emperor's seals would be hung on the Tet pole. On the seventh day of the first lunar month, the seal was opened and the Tet pole was taken down, marking the official beginning of the New Year.

The Hue Imperial Citadel in Thua Thien-Hue Province, UNESCO heritage site, was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last royal family (1802-1945).

On January 18, a program called the "Ancient fragrance of Tet cakes" will also be held at the citadel, featuring competitions to make the banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and banh tet (round glutinous rice cake). These cakes are an indispensable part of traditional Tet celebrations in Vietnam.

The citadel’s flag tower will be lit up and cannons will be fired on Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on January 24.

The center will offer free entry to its monuments on the first three days of the Lunar New Year. 

Visitors will have a chance to watch the Changing of Guards ritual at the Ngo Mon Gate, dragon dances, performances of Hue royal court music, royal games and calligraphy in the Thai Hoa Palace’s courtyard.

Hue is a popular heritage destination in Thua Thien-Hue Province in central Vietnam that preserves traditional rituals and the culture of the Nguyen Dynasty. The ancient town is dense with many UNESCO-recognized heritages, including royal tombs, ancient palaces and pagodas.

An aerial shot capturing the Imperial Citadel from above. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Hoang

An aerial view of the Imperial Citadel in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Hoang

Thua Thien-Hue received more than 4.8 million visitors in 2019, an increase of 11 percent year-on-year, 2.2 million visitors were foreigners. South Koreans accounted for a third of the foreign visitors.

This year, Hue will have a busy cultural calendar, with the peak event being the Hue Festival, a biennial cultural extravaganza that will be held from April 1-6. The VnExpress Marathon Hue 2020 on April 5 will be part of the festival this time.

The festival will include street carnivals, ao dai (the country’s traditional dress) shows, international food festivals and many art performances. This year, the festival will mark the 20-year milestone of Vietnam’s first internationally-acclaimed culture, arts, and tourism event.

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