In the early days of spring, the wrestling arenas in Hoang Hoa district, are always vibrant and have become an indispensable spiritual dish of the locals. After a year of hard work, the Lunar New Year and spring, are the time for the locals in Hoang Phong commune, to compete in the wrestling arenas. The villages send the strongest and most skilled men to join wrestling festivals throughout the commune. Although the rewards are only flags and pairs of banh chung (square glutinous rice cake), the competitions in the wrestling arenas are still always attractive. In addition to young villagers, the festivals featured the participation of veteran wrestlers. Wrestling has become a precious traditional custom that Hoang Phong commune has preserved for hundreds of years.
In addition to Hoang Hoa district, traditional wrestling competitions were held in many communes in Quang Xuong district, including Quang Hai, Quang Luu, Quang Giao and Quang Hung (now in Sam Son city). Several mountainous districts, such as Thach Thanh, Cam Thuy, Ngoc Lac and NhuXuan, have planned to restore and develop traditional wrestling, by the organisation of competitions and festivals, during Tet festival.
Over the past two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the spring wrestling festivals could not be held or were held in small or close scale. On the occasion of Tet Festival 2022, the localities in the province have applied the "flexible adaptation" mechanism, to hold the traditional wrestling festivals in a safe manner.
Boat racing is also one of the attractive traditional sport games of Thanh Hoa people, to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The boat racing festivals, which are held in Quang Nham commune (Quang Xuong district), Trung Chinh commune (Nong Cong district), Nga Bach commune (Nga Son district) and Hoang Datcommune (Hoang Hoa district), are a “spiritual dish” associated with the life and labour of the locals. In the mountainous areas, Ba Thuoc and Thuong Xuan districts have restored and organised spring boat racing festivals. The localities have gradually turned the traditional sport game into a unique product for tourism’s development, which saw great response and interest by visitors.
During Tet holiday, boys, girls, young men and women from Muong, Thai, Mong and Dao ethnic minorities, in the mountainous districts of Thanh Hoa province, have the opportunity to dress up in their traditional costumes and join traditional sports, games and performances. The fittest men and women will compete in stick pushing, a game showing their strength and ingenuity. The matches always create fun and excitement. Meanwhile, crossbow shooting requires sharpnessand the ingenious skills of its participants. This traditional game is quite popular during Tet holiday and has also been associated with ethnic minority people in the mountainous areas.
Con (cloth ball) throwing has been considered a “bridge of love” on the occasion of Tet holiday. The folk game not only aims to show the suppleness and skill of boys and girls, but also offers an opportunity for them to connect with each other. The image of the couples throwing con through a circle to reach each other’s hands, is a typical cultural feature of the mountainous localities. Thanh Hoa city has also paid great attention to the restoration of many traditional sport games, the organisation of festivals and competitions during Tet, such as human chess, Chinese chess, vovinam martial arts, lion and dragon dance performances.
Despite many modern entertainment forms, traditional and folk games still have a strong vitality in the life of all ethnic groups in Thanh Hoa province, during spring. This year’s Tet holiday, the localities developed many solutions to organise cultural and sport activities, in association with epidemic prevention measures, to serve the people.