A photo of the ceremony. (Source: VNA)
 
Thua Thien-Hue (VNA) – A Cay Neu (Neu pole) was planted at the Hue Imperial Citadel, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on January 20, featuring a traditional activity in the run up to the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival. 

The 15-metre bamboo pole was carried by costumed soldiers in a procession from the Hien Nhon Gate through the Thai Hoa (Supreme Harmony) Palace to arrive at the Ancestral Temple, where it was put up to the backdrop of ceremonial music and smoke from burning incense.
 
The erection of the Neu pole on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month marks the beginning of Tet. It coincides with the day when the Kitchen Gods are believed to ride carp fish to the Heavens to report on events from the past year. 

During 143 years of reign (1802 – 1945), the Nguyen Dynasty held an annual ceremony to plant the Neu pole at the Imperial Citadel. The pole carries ritual items on its top, like a royal seal, a paper scroll and pen, which imply that the royal court stopped working during Tet. 

The Neu pole is also believed to ward off ghosts and demons from entering the community during Tet. It would also direct ancestors seeking the path home for the Lunar New Year holiday. The custom is also practised in some Asian countries besides Vietnam.

It will be taken down on the seventh day of the first lunar month to mark the end of the Tet celebration.-VNA