Spring is the festival season in Vietnam. It is believed that the time from Lunar New Year or Tet holiday to the end of January is the best time to relax and prepare for a hard-working year. During this time, Sapa is also thrilled with many festivals of ethnic minorities. Visiting Sapa in spring, tourists will have the opportunity to enjoy cultural festivals of local people that is found nowhere.
Village cleaning festival of Xa Pho people
Xa Pho is one of ethnic minorities in the North of Vietnam. Village cleaning festival which is the typical festival of Xa Pho people is annually celebrated in Lunar February. It is held as the wish for a safe-and-sound life, an abundant crop and a successful year.
When coming to the festival, participants usually take along a bowl of rice, a chicken, money, two stick of incense and a bottle of wine. If they bring pigs or goats then villagers will have the duty to work for them in one day. In the festival day, all men in the village carry offerings to an empty ground. They altogether slaughter pigs, goats, and chickens to prepare for a banquet. In the meantime, shamans with a wooden sword in their hands, a branch of peach leaves and soot-rubbed faces come to each hamlet to perform cleaning ceremony. Coming to a house, shamans would pour a cup of alcohol then put it onto the family’s altar and read out loud the names of family members. It is considered as the rite for worshipping gods and ghosts in the house. After the rite, shamans use the wooden swords to brandish around the house. A member would be assigned to follow him to throw grilled corn over the head of the shaman.
Tet nhay festival of Dao people.
When apricots and peach blossoms are bloomed, Dao people celebrate Tet nhay festival jubilantly. From ancient times, Tet nhay festival has become a unique feature that is indispensible in Lunar New Year celebration of Dao people.
Tet nhay festival is held as the gratitude toward ancestors and the wish for the defense of Gods for family members. During the festival time, the host slaughter pigs, make cakes to prepare for a banquet. Participants would enjoy the banquet, drink alcohol, and dancing for several days. Throuh Tet nhay festival, cultural features of Dao people are deeply expressed. Traditional costumes with sophisticated embroidery are dressed by beautiful women. Unique dancing is performed attractively by men of all ages. This is the occasion to hand down traditional chants, dancing, music, and dishes to future generations to keep the soul of the nation.
Gau Tao festival of H’mong people
Gau Tao festival is the greatest festival of H’mong people. The intention of the festival is wishing for happiness or longevity. According to the custom of H’mong people, regardless of asking for happiness or longevity, the host has to rely on a shaman to communicate with ancestors or the God.
Although Gau Tao festival is celebrated in a certain house, it is rendezvous of the whole village. In the last day of the year, the host prepares offerings including pork, chung cake, rice, and alcohol. The shaman would recite the chant and scarify those offerings to the God in front of a Lunar New Year pole. The festival takes place during two days from 3rd to 5th of the New Year. Men and women in colorful traditional costumes altogether sing cheerful songs to praise the village and love. After that, hundreds of people go around paths, hills and hamlets chatting, singing and playing instruments like leaves trumpet, flute, and pan-pipe. Folk games are also organized to contribute the cheerful atmosphere of the festival.
Pham Thanh Ha/ Sapa Tours