| A food tray to offer to Kitchen Gods.
Worshipping Kitchen Gods has been a long time tradition of the Vietnamese people. The worshipping ceremony is usually held before noon, because, according to Vietnamese belief, at 12 the Kitchen Gods will leave for Heaven.
Folklore researcher Nguyen Hung Vi said: “Vietnamese people believe that the Kitchen Gods know their family’s affairs well. Every year on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, the Kitchen Gods go to Heaven to deliver their annual report on the family’s activities to the Jade Emperor. Vietnamese people hold a ceremony to see them off. In addition to an offering tray, people prepare three votive paper hats. Documents from the early 20th century indicate that only hats were prepared, but now votive paper shoes have been added as well”.
Each family in each region has their own way of preparing offerings for the Kitchen Gods. Common offerings include incense, flowers, fruit, betel and areca nuts, sticky rice, chicken, pork paste, spring rolls, and bamboo shoot soup. Indispensable offerings for the ritual are votive paper shoes, robes, mandarin bonnets, and carp on which the Kitchen Gods can to ride to Heaven.
Mr. Hung Vi said: “The worshiping rituals differ from region to region. People of each region usually offer agricultural products that they grow seasonally. Normally, they release living fish but in some areas, they worship paper fish”.
Legends say a carp is the only way a Kitchen God can get to heaven.
Vietnamese people usually clean ancestral altars to welcome the New Year as well as invite their ancestors to join Tet with them. Ms, Nguyen Minh Hue from Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi, said: “On the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, I clean the altar and make an offering to the Kitchen God. The offering includes various kinds of fruit and a food tray”.
Legends say a carp is the only way a Kitchen God can get to heaven. That’s why on this day, families prepare carp as part of their offering. Some buy paper carp while some prefer live carp which are released into a river or lake after the worshiping ceremony. They turn into dragons and take the Kitchen Gods to heaven.
Mr. Hung Vi said that when all family members gather and prepare for the New Year, this is a time to review what we have done last year and work out plans for the new year”.