History of national customs gives children link to past
A book written to teach primary students the basic traditions and customs of the Vietnamese is a perfect introduction to the subject for people who want a general overview.
Why we do it: The Book on Vietnamese Customs, which describes the customs, rituals and festivals in Viet Nam.The book, An Nam Phong Tuc Sach (The Book on Vietnamese Customs), was written by Mai Vien Doan Trien (1854-1919) and released by Ha Noi Publishing House.
It has been translated from old scripts to the current national language by Nguyen To Lan, of the Institute of Han Nom Studies.
The book is divided into 61 sections and describes the customs, rituals and festivals and the people’s role in each event, all of which have a strong impact on the life and behaviour of Vietnamese today.
(Lunar New Year), the most important of all festivals, is dealt with in seven parts, including an overview of Tet, cleaning up, offerings, shopping, worshipping, communication and the spring walk.
The Trung Thu (mid-Autumn) festival on the 15th of the 8th lunar month is described as a festival for children. They are bought toys such as lanterns, elephants and horses made from colourful paper. Children gather and arrange fruits and moon cakes in the moonlight.
The book also deals with worshipping ancestors, funeral ceremonies and the farming calendar, through weather, stars and plants, and offers opinions and thought-provoking remarks.
For example, of the New Year Festival, the author says: "The festival is an integral part through the country but in recent years we have organised and worshipped too sumptuously.
"Firecracker and votive paper are bought from China, wastefully and unwisely. Gambling should be prevented. Buying too much furniture is squandering. Giving up or reducing the custom is harmless.
"In my opinion, worshipping ancestors on New Year’s Eve and being merry on the first day of the new year are enough," he says.
Lan took several months to complete the book.
"Translating the book was not really difficult because the author used simple language which could be understood by primary students," she said, "but I spent a lot of time providing definitions for terms that would be strange for contemporary readers."
Although Trien recorded Vietnamese customs of the early 20th century, his work is alive and accessible for modern readers.
The 196-page book retails for VND39,000 (US$2.50).
Source : vietnamnet.vn