The Double Fifth Festival, believed to be derived from China, has been transformed by Vietnamese into an occasion to refresh one’s spirit and, probably even more importantly, to enjoy special summer desserts.
The story best known in modern China holds that the festival commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan, who committed suicide by drowning himself in a river, in despair of being wrongfully accused of treason and exiled.
Therefore, in the festival, Chinese people will float traditional food onto rivers to worship the talented poet.
In Vietnam, the Double Fifth Festival, or Tet Doan Ngo, is more widely known as the Pest Killing Fest. This is because when the festival is observed, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, pests begin to rapidly multiply and attack the summer crops.
Clearly a perfect time for farmers to roll up their sleeve and kill some pests.
But the tradition does not stop there. Vietnamese believe that it is also important to deal with the pests that stay inside one's soul during the festival.
Therefore, in the early morning, one must begin his or her day with a small bowl of cơm rượu, a rice wine dessert, even before breakfast.
The dessert is believed to be strong enough to kill all the inner insects, which are too hungry after a long night and will devour the sweet dessert in the morning.
Then, Vietnamese families will begin to enjoy other dishes made from glutinous rice, which are symbolic for their hope of an abundant summer.
Bánh ú, a pyramid-shaped rice cake, is a must for the festival.
.. and the version with meat
There is a different version of the cake, which include pork and eggs. This is perfect for those who want something more than just a dessert.
After eating, farmers will start the process of seeking and killing insects in their gardens and fields.
In the city, families will buy bundles of special leaves from markets and then hang them in front of their houses. Vietnamese believe the leaves can trap all bad insects, both visible and invisible, and keep their houses completely clean.
Since this year’s festival falls on a Saturday, don’t hesitate to plan for a weekend full of fruit and local dishes.
Because eating is obviously the best soul cleansing method.
Many fruits and sweet desserts are served during the festival.
Cơm rượu is believe to help kill one's inner insects.
Other kinds of glutinous dishes, or xôi, are also served on the traditional festival.
Another version of xôi which perfectly fits the traditional occasion.
Seasonal fruit, such as lychee, is served during the festival.