The five-fruit tray (mam ngu qua) in Tet holiday

Published:  10:17 Monday - August 22, 2016

The five-fruit tray (mam ngu qua) in Tet holiday

The five-fruit tray is an important part and and indispensable in Tet food. The five-fruit tray not only is to worship the ancestors but also wishes for wellbeing and prosperity in the New Year.

Lunar New Year or Tet, is the biggest and the most important festival in Vietnam. It is the best time for everyboday come back their hometown to reunite family and to relax after a hard-working year. Travel to Vietnam on the occasion of Tet, visitors should not miss a chance to study tradional rites of Vietnamese . A “Mam Ngu Qua” (five-fruit tray) on the ancestral altar during Tet holiday symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for prosperity.

There are some kinds of fruits that may be laid out on the tray include bananas, finger citrons, watermelons, oranges, kumquats, coconuts, apples, persimmons or tomatoes, and chilis. Each of one  has its own indication. A hand of green bananas or a finger citron, for example, ymbolizes one’s wish for the protection of supernatural powers and ancestors, pomelos and watermelons indicate fertility, and kumquats or persimmons connote wealth and prosperity.

People says that the five fruits are symbolic of the 5 nature elements - metal, wood, water, fire and soil. Howerver, other ones regard the tray as symbolic of the fruits of a family's hard work throughout the past year, which are consecrated to heaven and earth and their ancestors as sign of respect and gratitude.

Due to differences in climate and fruit crops among regions, Mam ngu qua also has different color. In northern region, Mam ngu qua ornamented with pomelos, peaches, kumquats, bananas and persimmons. In southern region, however, Mam ngu qua ornamented with pairs of watermelons, coconuts, papayas, custard apples, mangos, and figs. Currently, Mam ngu qua may contain more expensive, rarer fruits like grapes and pears, but all in all it is still a five-fruit tray, a nice offering of the Vietnamese people to their ancestors. It not only displays a life-long tradition but also sends a message of hope for happiness, good luck and prosperity for the new year.

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