During the Lunar New Year, the Vietnamese have more time to organize parties, meet friends, and play traditional games.
Welcoming Tet, this is an opportunity for people to temporarily put off work, gather, and have fun; so, many traditional games have been held.
Now we will check the famous traditional Vietnamese games, which are meaningful events and preserved until now.
1. Play swing (Đánh đu)
Swing is a very popular game, typically dating back to before the 10th century, usually taking place on Lunar New Year or early spring holidays, village gatherings. People will choose a very large open space, plant swing pillars from big, strong and tall bamboo trees.
The upper swing is the connection between the swing pillars together, from which the two swing arms come down so that players have handles. Unless the swing table to stand, all are made of bamboo.
This game can be played as a person or a couple, it is also an exciting game for boys and girls to meet, express themselves and come to know each other.
2. Wrestling game (Đấu Vật)
In folk games of the old Tet, wrestling is one of the most well-known events. This is a martial contest played by the men in the village to challenge and compare their strengths.
The rules of this play are simple: Two people stand opposite each other. If one can make the opponent fall on the ground with the back touching the mat surface, that one will win. However, in addition to being strong and durable, wisdom is also very important for playing a wrestling game.
3. Tug of war
Tug-of-war games are probably too familiar to everyone, from boys, teenagers to children, the most like this game.
To play tug-of-war, there are 2 large teams, consisting of many people. Each group holding one end of the rope, standing opposite each other by the line.
If one team pulls the rope more to their own side, that group will be the winner. In addition to the strength and team spirit, the ingenuity of the leader also greatly contributed to the team’s victory.
4. Play Dao (Đánh đáo)
Before the 1990s, many localities in North Vietnam were very familiar with this game, especially children.
People will dig holes on the ground, the bigger the hole is, the easier it will be to play. Then, draw a line for the players to stand from afar, if you want the game to be more difficult, the line will be farther from the hole. If anyone throws more coins in the holes, he or she will win. The game will end when everyone runs out of coins.
5. Go on stilts (Đi cà kheo)
This traditional game, which often presents at village festivals, is going on stilts, traditional ceremonies, and of course, Tet is indispensable.
The game consists of long stilt trees that will have a wooden small table or footsteps for players to have a place to keep their feet. The lower ends of the stilts will replace feet for walking on the ground every time you move.
This game is easy to fall, requiring ingenuity. You have to keep your balance and focus while moving to be able to win.
6. Crush the clay pot
Crushing the clay pot originates from the Nothern Vietnam on every Tet occasion, gradually spread to the South in the event for team buildings, outdoor play areas; typically you can find it in Hoi An Old Town at night.
The organizers will choose a large space, make a frame from 2 poles and a rope about 5 meters long, then hang it on clay pots.
Players are blindfolded and stand at the limited line, about 3-5 meters away from where the pots are hung. When hearing a signal, the player will start to move forward and hit pots with a short pole.
Normally, when the pot is broken, a piece of paper comes out, the reward the player receives is told on the paper.
7. Cockfighting game
The reason for having a game of fighting chickens during the Tet holidays is because, in the past, the main occupation in Vietnam was farming and breeding.
An elegant hobby, both entertaining and encouraging farmers’ farming, the cockfighting game had been popular on Tet in all three regions of the North, Central, and South and there were famous places like Bac Ninh, Yen Phong… Nowadays, some cities in Vietnam still have this cockfighting game, but not as famous as in the past.
People choose the good rooster very well, then are carefully raised and trained with other fighting chickens to prepare for bigger matches. In some places, if a fighting rooster loses a game, it will no longer be a fighting one to play.
8. Play human chess
A human chess game is a match of chess magnified, from a normal chessboard to a large grid-like space on the huge yard. 32 representatives will assign 32 pieces to each position.
The two players will sit outside the moving chess area to observe the game, they have to focus and calm down before the cheers and tips of the crowd of people around. The game not only requires intellect but also mentally must be firm with other dispersing factors. A human-chess game can sometimes last for many hours to win or lose.
9. Throw a ball (Ném còn)
Throwing a ball is a popular game in the Northern highlands Vietnam, especially the Nung, Thai, and Tay ethnic groups. Normally, the throwing game will also be held in a communal yard or a large area. To play it, the organizers plant a tall bamboo tree, on its top will be a circle and yellow and red paper on the two sides. The yellow side represents the moon (for girls) while the red color represents the sun (for men).
The aspherical ball is made from a cloth bag, containing seeds, with colorful patterns and colors. This ball presents to the rich crop showing the wish of the agricultural people. The player will either throw the ball through the circle on the bamboo, and the other people try to catch it after falling. This throwing-a-ball game has the meaning of praying for yin-yang harmony, and a good harvest.
Frequently asked questions about traditional games in Vietnam
Which traditional games can I play in Vietnam?
Almost all traditional games are very easy to play, so you can play with most of the games mentioned in the article, except for human chess. It is because the human-chess game needs to know how to manage Chinese chess and the art of movement, and martial arts may be required.
How can I participate in the traditional Vietnamese games?
In order to play traditional Vietnamese games, as well as the others, you need to understand the rules of the games. Therefore, if you are a foreigner, you should join with a friend, so he/she can guide you in how to take part in doing the game.
Are the traditional games organized on normal days?
The traditional games in Vietnam often require a lot of participants. Therefore, they are usually celebrated on the cultural Lunar New Year – Tet holidays, or major festivals of the village. At those times, there are many people who can participate in the games.
However, in order to serve tourists to experience Vietnamese culture, the game of crushing clay pots is often held every night in the ancient town of Hoi An. If you want to join in, please visit Hoi An’s old town in the evening.