Worshiping tray on Kitchen God Day in different regions of Vietnam

On the 23rd day of the last Lunar month, every Vietnamese family prepares a decent food tray to send the Kitchen God (Tao Quan) to heaven. Depending on local traditions, each region in Vietnam has its special way to offer the Kitchen God.

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“Tao Quan” in Vietnam’s folk beliefs originated from the three gods Tho Cong, Tho Dia, and Tho Ky of Chinese Taoism, but was transformed into a legend of “two men and women” including God of Land, God of House, God of Kitchen. People often referred to this God as Ong Tao. (Photo: Zing News)
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Preparing a food tray to see off the Kitchen God on Lunar December 23 is a long-standing cultural feature of the Vietnamese people. Basically, offerings in regions don’t need to be too fussy and have some similarities. The savory food tray usually has a plate of rice, salt, boiled chicken, a bowl of bamboo shoot soup, a bowl of mixed stir-fried plate, a Vietnamese pork sausage, sticky rice, a bottle of wine, a banknote,… (Photo: Zing News)
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The tray also includes carp because Vietnamese people think that the carp can bring Tao Quan back to heaven and tell Ngoc Hoang the events that happened on earth in the past year. In addition, the carp is also a symbol of peace. Vietnamese people believe that the carp who surpass the heaven gate will turn into a dragon, which stands for development. (Photo: Zing News)
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According to the old Vietnamese custom, families that have children also offered the Kitchen God a boiled chicken, which implied a request that the Kitchen God ask Ngoc Hoang to bless the child with strength, health, and energy. (Photo: Zing News)
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Northern people often celebrate the Kitchen God Day quite early in the morning, on December 23 of the lunar month. It is thought that after 12 o’clock, the three Kitchen Gods have already left to heaven. Tao Quan offering tray in the Northern of Vietnam includes traditional dishes such as boiled chicken, banh chung, gac sticky rice, bamboo shoot soup, meatball soup, mixed sauté plate, pork sausage, five fruit tray, spring rolls, pickled onion … Each family can change the menu feast depending on its taste. (Photo: Zing News)
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For families who like fussy and meticulousness in the offering tray, the tray must include typical dishes of the North such as sticky rice, sweet soup, braised sweep soup. Those dishes often appear during Tet and are loved by many people. Sweet soup is cooked from green beans, white sugar, sesame oil, pandan leaves, coconut milk. (Photo: Zing News)
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The food tray to worship the Kitchen God of the Southern people usually has fresh flowers, incense, candles, 3 glasses of fresh water, a set of paper animals, and “theo leo” candies. “Theo leo” candies are made from ingredients such as black sesame, peanuts, malt sugar, white sugar … (Photo: Zing News)
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The ritual of worshiping the Kitchen God of the Central people is the most different among the three regions. The Hue people and some neighboring provinces put the altar of the Kitchen God in the kitchen. Before worshiping, the landlord clean and replaced the new sand for the censer, then perform the ceremony to take of the old Kitchen God’s statue from the altar then replace it with the new statue at the beginning of the new year. In addition to the food, the worshiping tray of Central region people also includes paper horses. (Photo: Zing News)