Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tết and traditional games and sports

Spring is synonymous with festivals, nowhere else in the world are there such many festivals as in Việt Nam that make the New -year holidays more joyous, merry and exciting.
Photo: Trương Quỳnh
In all village festivals, wrestling is the main event, a symbol of positive strength, (in the ancestors’ opinion). It’s the game that bring about good weather and bumpy crops.

Remarking is human chess (kind of Chinese chess) with 32 soldiers divided into two parties (each is 16). Each party has a general, a female one is called Mrs and a male one is Mr dressed in black or blue, Mrs or female general dressed in red. Soldiers are boys and girls of well-educated families. Each holds a small wooden board (or a shirt) with a chessman name. The chessmen move by the signal from the chess-player. The play-ground is some dozens of meters large and clearly painted in lines. The court might be a pagoda ground or a dry rice-field.

Swinging is a kind of game so romantic. On festive days, villagers set up swing frame on a dry rice-field for boys and girls to play. The swing-frame is 8 pillars of strong bamboo. The higher and stronger they rock, the swifter they swing to and fro. Sometimes, prizes are tied to the top of the swings and in order to catch the prizes, players have to be more courageous. Swinging is a game to share feelings and romance.

Ball-throw is a popular game for unmarried boys or girls. They play the game as to foretell their love while rituals are performed in pagoda. Balls to throw through the bamboo-rings are made of two lemon fruits woven with rattan. Blue is negative ball, white-red is positive ball. Players are divided into two parties with a head-player. The game may last all day long. Many couples come from the game.

Tug-of-war is a traditionally active game with two teams. Teams might be single-sex or mixed. Each team tries to pull the partners to its side, a column is put in the court-centre tied to the column are ropes or rattans… (normally 20m long), and the teams hold and pull the rope. The village head or an elderly waves the signal. Winner is the team that pull the other side. Spectators cheer the game. Sometimes the rope is pulled or pushed directly by players. The fore-runner holds the rope, the followers hold each other’s belly and pull. The loser is the team that breaks the rope. Each game has 3 rounds, winner is decided by 3 wins.

Tết traditional games are closely related to communities, participants are locals, even visitors far and wide.

                                                            HỒNG HẠNH
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