Father, mother chung cakes of the Tay in Quang Ninh province

Chia sẻ

(VOVWORLD) - When celebrating Tet, the Lunar New Year festival, each ethnic group in Vietnam has its unique traditions. On the 25th to 28th day of the last lunar month, the Tay in Binh Lieu district, Quang Ninh province,  make a father chung cake and a mother chung cake, in addition to cakes of normal size and shape.

Father, mother chung cakes of the Tay in Quang Ninh province - ảnh 1Tay women make chung cakes for the Lunar New Year holiday. (photo: Hoang Cuong)


The Tay make many chung cakes for Tet because they consider Tet to be over when they have eaten all the chung cakes. Women are in charge of making chung cakes. They usually use three bowls of rice to make a regular chung cake. They use twice that amount to make a father or mother chung cakes. The father cake has the shape of a ball, while the mother cake is a long tube.

Some people believe that each bowl of rice represents one month. For the father and mother chung cakes, they use a total of 12 bowls of rice. Wrapping such big chung cakes requires experience and dexterity.

Luong Thiem Phu of the Tay group in Chang Na village, Binh Lieu town, said a father cake contains a stream fish, while a mother cake contains a chicken egg.

“Only father and mother cakes have special fillings. Other cakes have normal fillings. The fish must have white scales and be caught from a stream,” said Phu.

Ly Thi Hoa of Binh Cong 2 hamlet, Binh Lieu district, says the Tay believe that fish symbolize water, abundance, and prosperity. Chicken eggs symbolize fertility and productivity. Making father and mother Chung cakes to offer to the ancestors is a way to show respect and pray for a good harvest.

“Not all Tay clans make the father and mother cakes. The Tay believe that a fish symbolizes strength because it can swim in a big river, so they use a fish to make the filling for the father cake. You must cut the cake on an auspicious date and invite relatives and neighbors to share it. The Tay people of Binh Lieu district have followed this custom for many generations,” said Hoa.

Father, mother chung cakes of the Tay in Quang Ninh province - ảnh 2Father and mother chung cakes of the Tay (photo: baoquangninh.vn)

In the afternoon of the last day of the lunar year, chung cakes are placed on the ancestral altar. Before Tet is over, the father and mother cakes are taken from the altar and eaten by the family members and their guests. It’s believed that anyone who visits three houses and is invited to eat parent chung cake will have a lot of good luck for the whole year.

To Dinh Hieu, an official with Binh Lieu district’s Communication and Culture Center, said: “In the past the father cake only had a fish filling. Now people add pork and red leaves to create a nice color. The father and mother cakes are placed on the altar until the first lunar month. Then they’re taken down and re-boiled, and family and friends eat together for good luck.”

The Tay comprise 55% of the population of Binh Lieu district. They have a rich culture, which includes Tet customs of installing a Neu bamboo tree to ward off evil spirits, sticking red paper on the altar, entrance door, kitchen door, barn, utensils, and plants, carrying water from the wharf to one’s home, and making father and mother cakes for offerings.

Life has changed a lot. Now there are new types of food, drinks, and cake. But the Tay people in Binh Lieu district, Quang Ninh province, still make father and mother chung cakes to show their gratitude to their ancestors and their pride in their cultural identity.