Peach blossoms, the color of Vietnamese Tet
The Lunar New Year (Tet) is in the air. The streets are getting more crowded and vibrant, with vivid colors of lights, festive banners, Tet gifts, and especially trees and flowers.
Tet holidays are the days of relaxation, happiness and joy. And similar to pine tree for Christmas holiday in the West, Vietnamese also use many kinds of flowers and plants to decorate their house in this special period. Some names can be listed out: Chrysanths, marigold, Mao Ga flower, paperwhite flower, lavender, to name a few. Some people nowadays even use orchid and rose, although this is not yet popular.
Despite the increasingly abundant choice of ornament trees and flowers for Tet decoration, in the north of Vietnam, peach blossom is still the first image that comes to people’s mind when talking about the color of Lunar New Year and Spring, besides marumi kumquat.
Ha Noi’s specialty peach with dark pink colour (nearly red) (photo: P.Y)
Peach blossoms owe their popularity to reasons that vary according to inpidual age and taste. Most people like them because of the beauty of their slender petal, while some see a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in the vividness of their colors.
The pink colour of peach flowers shows the love and joy spread among people in this unique period of the year. Peach flower has 2 kinds: light peach with light pink colour and Nhat Tan – Ha Noi’s specialty peach with dark pink colour (nearly red).
Link pink peach blossoms, often seen in the Northwestern region (photo: P.Y)
Peach blossoms are also a pride of the Northwest mountainous region of Vietnam. When cold and icy winds of winter are passing through and the warm spring sunshine is coming, peach blossoms begin blooming throughout the hillsides. It is the wild and natural beauty of this flower that attracts both domestic and international backpackers traveling to Northwest Vietnam.
Peach blossom has long played an important part in the cultural life of Vietnamese people, since the pink color are believed to bring about a new source of vibrant energy to the family, including glory, love, joy and happiness for the upcoming year.
Hanoians usually buy peach blossoms and festive ornament trees, flowers in Hang Luoc Street (located in the Old Quarter) or at Nhat Tan flower village, where the art of growing the tree has been passed down through generations.
In recent years, besides peach blossoms planted in Hanoi and nearby province, forest peach trees have become popular during New Year. Many ancient peaches in H’mông ethnic regions have been cut for sale. According to Lại Văn Thăng, a resident in Hanoi, he often went on business in northern mountain provinces at the end of the year and bought a forest blossom branch to decorate his home.
According to Vietnamese legend, once upon a time, in the East of the Soc Son Mountain (nowadays part of Hanoi), existed a gigantic peach tree. The tree was so huge that its shadow extended through out a large area of land. Up on the tree, lived two powerful deities, Tra and Uat Luy. They protected the people of the land in the surrounding areas from the devils.
The devils were so afraid of these two deities that even the sight of the peach tree haunted them. However, at the end of every lunar year, these two deities had to fly back to heaven for an annual meeting with the Jade Emperor. During this time, the devils took advantage of this opportunity to harass the innocent inhabitants.
To fight the battle against these devils, people came up with the ideas of displaying a branch of the peach tree in the house to scare them away. Since then, it has become a custom of the North Vietnamese to have a branch of a peach tree during Tet season to protect themselves from the Satan soldiers. Those who do not have peach tree can pain the figures of the two deities, Tra and Uat Luy, on red paper, and display them in front of the house.
Peach blossoms, an integral part of spring in Northern Vietnam (photo: P.Y)
Though its initial purpose (scaring away ghosts) is not the same anymore, peach blossom is still an integral part of spring in Northern Vietnam. Its cheerful color brings warmness to every home, welcoming a year full of joys.
If you have chance to be a guest in a Hanoian’s family during Tet, you’ll notice that the host tries his best to make a point of procuring, at least, a small branch of peach flowers to decorate the house. Petals are single or double according to the variety, and their colors range from a delicate pink to carmine red. Connoisseurs like double petals and tender rosy tones, but popular preference goes to more vivid tints.
In recent year, thanks to the progress of delivery services, including air carriers, apart from the North, peach blossoms have reached its vivid hues to other parts of the country./.