(VOVworld) - Vietnamese people have a custom of erecting a bamboo pole, known as a Neu tree, in front of their house on the last day of the lunar year to expel evils, worship deities and pray for good luck for the New Year. They remove it on the 7th day of the New Year to say farewell to their ancestors in heaven.
The custom of erecting a Neu tree during the lunar New Year has become less popular but it’s still observed by some Vietnamese families and villages. The Neu tree is erected in front of the house to ward off evils and pray for good luck in the New Year. Vu Hong Thuat is a researcher at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology:“According to the Vietnamese concept, the Neu tree is believed to connect earth and heaven. It is a holy tree to delineate the land of men and evil. They use the tree to mark the border of their house. It is also a sign of spring marking the arrival of a New Year”.
According to researcher Vu Hong Thuat, there are some implications behind Vietnamese people’s use of bamboo to make Neu trees: “Neu trees must be ones with green leaves and tops without decay, or ant or bird nests. The tree must be one from the east side of the bamboo grove. Its length must be in an odd number, 5 or 7 meters”.
The custom of erecting a Neu tree remains popular in Co Loa commune, Dong Anh district on the outskirt of Hanoi. Mr. Truong Van Hong in Co Loa says that because the sun rises in the east, a bamboo tree in the east often receives sunlight and promises prosperity: “We must choose a durable bamboo tree which is neither very old nor very young. The bamboo trees should be ones that are planted far from a pond or river because those near the water are too soft. The top of the neu tree should be a little bit curved and there are no scars on the tree. The joints of the bamboo tree are places for the god to land”.
Vietnamese people erect a Neu tree in front of their house to show off their land holdings and mark the border of their house. On the top of the bamboo tree, they often hang a snatch of pineapple leaves, chicken feathers and a circle of New Year cards made of bamboo and do (poonah) paper. The decoration on the Neu trees varies between regions and periods. According to Mr. Hong, the circle of bamboo cards symbolizes happiness and chicken feathers represent holy birds with powers that can help the family. On the Neu tree some people also hang an effigy made of straw or paper called Mr. Neu: “We hang an effigy on the Neu tree. They decorate the effigy differently each year. They may color the effigy to give him a new style. Under the Neu tree, we plant some thorn trees to dispel evil”.
Researcher Vu Hong Thuat says that people from Thua Thien Hue province to the north often erect a Neu tree in front of their house, opposite the main hall. The top of the Neu tree looks into the house: “Because the main hall is the worshipping place, the Neu tree is like a guard of the house who dispels evil spirit trying to get into the house. Vietnamese people respect the worshiping of their ancestors. For them, the worshiping hall is the most important place. They place the most beautiful and the best things in the main hall to pray for good luck”.
The Neu tree is ceremonially removed after the seventh day of Tet. This is the last ritual, which brings an end to the New Year celebration.