Another year came, another year passed, and here I am helping my parents prepare for the traditional rites before the Lunar New Year’s eve (or the eve before Tet)
It starts from the 23rd of December on the Lunar calendar. The very first worshiping ritual is to send the Messenger of your House onto Heaven to report whatever you’ve done in the old year to the High Lord of heaven. This messenger is then welcomed back into the house on the eve before Tet to join with the celebration.
However, the very first IMPORTANT worshiping ritual must be performed in the morning or afternoon the latest on the day before New Year’s eve. This is to invite the ancestors back to celebrate the new year together with you, and it would not be complete without the worshiping meal prepared.
The meal may consist of three to five or more dishes. But the more important and indispensable ones are the traditional sticky-rice cake (which symbolizes the land people living in); soup of bitter melon stuffed with ground pork (to wish the bitterness of the old year away); the boiled whole chicken and the braised pork with eggs (those dishes often cooked in the traditional old homes for wish of having sufficient food for the family). So a closer to into the cake…
This is my mom’s product! =) every year she would prepare several of these cakes for our family as well as to our friends and working partners as a token of appreciation for a good year of collaboration (when given like this, the cake often comes in pair!). This cake has its content made from layers of cooked green beans sandwiched a thick layer of fatty meat, which are all wrapped in this “coat” of sticky rice which is soaked in a solution of pandan juice and salt; altogether they would be boiled for almost 12 hours continuously!
After setting up the table with such dishes and bowls of rice (and up to each home they will serve with cold hams or with springrolls), the flower vase decor-ed with marigold will be put up with the incense burner, joss paper, candles and a dish of rice mixed with salt. The head of the family (or the elderly) would be the one who light three incense sticks to carry out the ritual of inviting the ancestors by praying. Once the incense sticks have burned up, the joss paper (contained of various figures) would be burned with the thought of sending goods and properties to our ancestors so as they would have sufficient and even affluent living in the other world; then they would come back to bless the children! The dish of rice and salt would then be tossed around the house to prevent further evil spirits to come and spoil the occasions. After everything is done (meaning the ancestors have finished with the meal), my family will have the food together…
And that would be done for the ritual of the morning… More to come! =)