Friday, October 21 2016


Old traditions meet new at death anniversaries

Update: January, 24/2016 - 01:14

by Moc Mien

A few days ago, I visited my friend's house on the occasion of her grandfather's death anniversary.

Her family has about 20 members who were enjoying themselves chatting about her grandfather's life. I was quite surprised to see that they had prepared traditional food and also ordered KFC and Italian pizzas.

"Traditional food is indispensable in my family whenever it comes to our ancestors' death anniversaries. However, we like fast food so the menu has changed accordingly," my friend Nguyen Thu Huong said.

My friend's family, like numerous other Vietnamese families, retains the tradition of worshipping their ancestors. It is derived from the belief that the living and the dead are strongly connected. The spirits of one's dead ancestors are still there to protect and help grandchildren in every walk of life. So the worshipping of ancestors is much appreciated in Viet Nam.

Normally, Vietnamese families make traditional food such as fried spring roll, bamboo shoot soup, mixed vegetables, etc. to offer to the ancestors. After the worshipping rituals, grandchildren enjoy the meal together, talking about issues of the family and the past lives of the ancestors.

Nowadays, as Huong shared, many modern families have simplified the making of food to offer to ancestors. They can make a single food set for the worshipping ritual and order the other food to enjoy together. Moreover, they can order all the food sets for the big families via available services.

"My wife's family often orders food via available services to save time and energy. They care about the appreciation from grandchildren to the ancestors rather than the cooking habits. They also care for the time our family shares together. It is very interesting. I really enjoy the cozy atmosphere of our family," Frank Ford, whose wife is Vietnamese, said.

Some other families even make it much simpler by making the favourite dishes of the ancestors rather than traditional food.

"Our life is similar to the afterlife of our ancestors. When they were alive, they loved some food but they could hardly have it. We make the food to offer to them as a way to remember them," Tran Hoai Nam, 40, said.

In my own family, my mother is a resourceful person who is always careful with the worshipping rituals. On any death anniversary, she always make traditional dishes and the favourites of our grandparents.

"Back in the old days, my parents were so poor that they had no fish. I always want to make that dish to offer it to them when we observe their death anniversaries," she said.

In modern life, traditional worshipping of ancestors is very sacred and necessary. Besides expressing appreciation and remembrance of grandchildren to the ancestors, worshipping also creates a space for family reunions.

"The anniversary is also a chance for grandchildren to remember their ancestors and enjoy the occasion together. Whatever may be the way they worship, one of the most important things is to keep the order, the tradition and family environment of the Vietnamese. I believe that they can," Ford said. — VNS

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