The Ha Nhi people in northern mountainous Dien Bien province celebrate their traditional New Year festival (Tet) on the first dragon day in December, which fell on December 11 this year.

On the first day of Tet, every Ha Nhi family kills a pig, which they have raised since the beginning of the year particularly for Tet, as pork is the must-have offering to ancestors. The liver of the pig will be examined to see whether the new year is a good or bad for the family.

The head of the family will offer a food tray to the ancestors, which includes boiled pork, a bowl of rice, a piece of ginger and three cups of wine.

Known for their hospitality, Ha Nhi people always invite lots of relatives and friends to their home to enjoy Tet. After sumptuous meals, every one will flock to the communal space to join dances and singing late into the night.

The next day, the sound of rice pounding can be heard as early as five o’clock in the morning as people pound steam sticky rice to make Banh day (round rice cake), which is essential to the Ha Nhi’s Tet. The first rice cake will be offered to the ancestors before every one else has their share. After making the cakes, people visit each other’s house to extend New Year greetings and wishes, while children keep themselves busy with various traditional games.

The Ha Nhi is one of a few ethnic groups in Vietnam who celebrate both the Kinh's traditional Lunar New Year Festival and their own festivals, which are scattered throughout the year.

According to the General Department of Statistics, the Ha Nhi ethnic group in Vietnam has a population of more than 21,700, living mostly in the northern mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Lao Cai.-VNA