The Unique Lunar New Year of the Co Lao Ethnic in Ha Giang

Co Lao ethnic community in Ha Giang province is one of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. However, the cultural tradition at Tet of Co Lao people remains relatively intact and has many unique features. In particular, the Co Lao group in Tung San (Hoang Su Phi) commune is considered one of the places that preserve the customs and traditions of their ethnic. Typically, we should mention their unique customs at Tet Holiday.

The Co Lao community in Ha Giang province

Tet has a great significance to Co Lao people because, according to them, these are the most peaceful and funniest days in a year when everyone, every family takes a rest and welcome the new year together. They conceive that the new year is an opportunity to show gratitude to their parents, thank their ancestors and Gods for blessing them and giving them health and luck during the last year.

The atmosphere of the New Year usually comes to Co Lao families very early, from the 23th December in lunar calendar. In the families, people begin to be busy preparing for worshiping the kitchen god ritual, an indispensable god in daily life in the belief of people. From then until 25th December, members of the family will help each other to clean and tidy their house ready for the new year.

Pork is an indispensable food at Tet of Co Lao ethnic
However, the boisterous atmosphere really begins from 26th December when people butcher pigs to prepare food for Tet. According to the old people, in the past, every family had to slaughter a fat pig fed during the year to celebrate the New Year because pork is indispensable with Co Lao people. When all the preparations almost done, people will make a traditional cake in the New Year called Day cake (bánh dày). In the families, all members will return to gather together to make this kind of cake. The Co Lao will make a big cake which is as big as a tray to offer to their ancestors and some small cakes to eat.


The happiness in the face of Co Lao people at Tet

By the 30th night of December, people boil a pot of water consisting of kinds of leaves harvested in the forest and in the garden such as tea, guava, camphor, grapefruit leaves... for the family members to bath. Then, they offer a feast to the ancestor inviting them to celebrate the lunar New Year on the altar, the sacrifice must include: a boiled rooster, 3 square pieces of boiled pork, Day cake, wine, and votive paper. According to the opinion of the Co Lao, the rooster means sweeping, sweep away the evil to welcome the luck and goodness in the new year.

In the 1st morning of the new year, rice offering will be the first work to be done; however, especially in this day people abstain from having girls leave their house, cleaning the house or doing anything from morning until night. Generally, they will wait for men or boys to first-foot their house, exchange best wishes then the girls can go out. In the 2nd day of the New Year, people will butcher 2 roosters to offer to the Kitchen God and the lay midwife of the children to pray for health, prosperity, wealth... By the 3rd, if choosing a lucky day, the family will take down the large Day cake down and finish their 3-day Tet holiday.


A traditional game at Tet
Like other peoples, Tet is a chance for all villagers to immerse in the exciting activities, and traditional games... In the traditional games, the boys and girls have the opportunity to show off most beautiful new clothes and skillful artifacts. The elderly and children are also involved, the come to watch, cheer, sing and dance..., which creates a jubilant atmosphere in the New Year.

The Unique Lunar New Year  of the Co Lao Ethnic in Ha Giang

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