10:05 | 13/02/2016 Society
Like most other nations in Asia, the Vietnamese welcome the New Year according to the lunar calendar, and Tet Nguyen Dan (the lunar New Year Day) has long become the biggest festival of the nation.
Students prepare a five-fruit tray (Photo: VNA)
Among the numerous offerings that are required to decorate ancestral altars during the traditional New Year, a five-fruit tray is indispensable for each Vietnamese family, which is a symbol of the wholeheartedness and filial piety of the present generation towards their ancestors and the Genie of the Land.
Like other popular rituals, the preparation of a five‑fruit tray for Tet has become an established convention. During the few days just before Tet, the Vietnamese begin to buy the necessary fruits for this purpose. A five‑fruit tray is usually composed of a hand of green bananas, a ripe pomelo (or a Buddha's hand, a shaddock), oranges, persimmons, sapodilla plums, a bunch of kumquat, and in recent years, one can add mangoes and grapes from southern Vietnam, or apples and pears from China. Although it is called a five‑fruit tray, it does not necessarily contain exactly five kinds of fruit.
The five-fruit tray, together with horizontal lacquered boards engraved with Chinese characters, parallel sentences written on red paper, ornamental kumquat and peach trees, and popular Hang Trong and Dong Ho pictures, has transcended its material value to become a spiritual symbol, an original national product in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese.
At present, while many of the ancient spiritual values have sunk into oblivion, the custom of arranging the five‑fruit tray on the altar during the lunar New Year days is being jealously preserved as a fine legacy of Vietnam's traditional culture./.