Vietnamese lychee: A story of culture and tradition

22:24 | 19/06/2021 Culture & Tourism

Duanwu Festival is a traditional ritual observed in both Vietnamese and Chinese culture. This day is around the time of Xiazhi (the time of the summer Solstice) when the Sun is the most near the Earth.

vietnamese lychee a story of culture and tradition

Xiazhi (midsummer) in Vietnam is also the onslaught of heat, rainfall, humidity, mosquitoes, flies and related summer illness. However, Xiazhi brings myriad of delicious fruits, among the prince of our fruits, is the lychee. Duanwu Festival in Vietnamese culture is a celebration for harvest and worshiping ancestors, to show our gratitude to gods and our eagerness to see bumper autumn harvest. Duanwu marks the start of new farming season in Vietnam. In the early morning of the Duanwu Day, right after waking up, people eat lychees, plums, ash cakes, and sticky rice wine to kill insects and diseases. Lychees and these Vietnamese delicacies are believed to help people getting rid off insects and protecting the crops during summer.

Growing up in Hai Duong and Bac Giang provinces, lychee is now providing lifeline for many Vietnamese farmers. These major lychee growing localities harvest about 200,000 tonnes of the fruit annually, 10 percent of Vietnam’s lychee production destined for export. Lychees, famous for their reddish skin and delicious, jelly-like pulp are most favored fruit in Vietnam in the summer. Sweet, succulent, subtle in fragrance, lychee is crowned “Lucky Fruit”, “Fruit of Love” or “Fruit of Romance” in Vietnam.

Lychee is native to Northern Vietnam thanks to suitable climate conditions and is believed to be indigenous to the localities along the Red River since 100 years B.C. Glossy, succulent and heavenly sweet, lychees have all in its auspicious properties and were believed to bring lucky, prosperity and fertility. In the long list of healthy fruits, lychee was the leading with numerous attributing, from source of dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals, pain reliever to cure for cancer and kidney disease! Lychee is a natural cosmetic to moisturize skin, reduce wrinkles, keep hair healthy, and strengthen bones.

Over the years, lychee cultivation spread to neighboring countries such as China, Myanmar, India and recently to Madagascar, South Africa, and Mexico. The lychee trees can also be found in Singapore and the most famous one is the large tree of 18 meters high located along Mt Rosie Road (the Singapore National Parks Board has chosen this tree for preservation under the Heritage Trees Scheme).

For many years, thanks to the application of VietGAP and GlobalGAP processes, the cultivation of lychee in Vietnam is now standardized. Lychee cultivation areas in Vietnam are granted specific codes for export. All these areas are monitored to control the cultivation process and do traceability. The traceability stamp allows customers to easily check and track lychee products when buying lychee from Vietnam. Thanks to these efforts, Vietnam’s lychees are gradually gaining the recognition from international buyers as the best lychees in the world.

Since 2020, Vietnam’s lychees have been exported to Singapore during May-July season by NTUC FairPrice. Let’s celebrate together the Duanwu Festival – a convivial time for family gatherings - and enjoy Vietnamese Lychee – a fruit to enhance traditional values and to tighten family links.

Quynh Tran, Ph. D., Head of Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore