Tradition of making Chung cake for Tet

Making Chung cake for the Lunar New Year is an aged-old tradition of Vietnamese people. Chung cakes are meaningful gifts and an indispensible offering on the ancestral altars during Vietnam’s biggest festival of the year. Legend tells us that when the 6th Hung King organized an ancestral worship 4,000 years ago, he assigned his princes to prepare offerings. He said he would cede the throne to whoever brought the best offering. The princes travelled through forests and dived in to the ocean to find precious products. Lang Lieu, the 18th prince, was the poorest son. He could not get precious and rare items for the ceremony.  Women makes Chung cakes with glutinous rice, green beans, pork, and Dong leaves. (photo: Ngoc Anh) With available agricultural products such as glutinous rice, green beans, and pork, he made a Chung square cake, which symbolizes the earth, and Giay round glutinous rice cake, which symbolizes the sky. Lang Lieu’s offering met Hung King’s desire, so he succeeded to the throne. Chung cake have since become a must-have item in ancestral worship, which illustrates the spirit of “remembering the source of the water we drink.” Chung cake consists of sticky rice, pork and green bean, with all ingredients wrapped inside a leaf called Dong, which is similar to banana leaves. The round shape symbolizes the earth, while the ingredients represent plants, animals, and the wet rice civilization. Dinh Thanh Tu, a Hanoian, said, “When the Lunar New Year comes, children joyfully watch adults making… [Read full story]

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