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At Hanoi villages, Tet is blooming in its fullest colors and fragrances
By Thanh Nien News -
If you are in Hanoi this time of the year, make sure to check out these trade villages to see and smell Tet.
As veteran producers of Tet traditional goods, these villages can offer you a rare chance to observe some of the many different facets of the country’s biggest festival. 
Tranh Khuc Village

Photo credit: Infonet

More than half of the 250 families in the village, around 20 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, earn their living by making banh chung – a traditional rice cake with pork and mung bean fillings.
Each family makes between 50 and 100 cakes every day, but about one month before Tet, their outputs can increase by up to five times.
The village’s head has recently told a local newspaper that these days a family can churn out up to over 1,000 cakes per day.
With this busy atmosphere, almost every local house is now full of green giant dong leaves that are used to wrap the cake. Huge stainless pots where rice cakes are cooked for hours over clay ovens are also everywhere.
While banh chung makers in many other places employ machines to do part of their jobs, Tranh Khuc villagers still do everything by hand, and with care, from choosing leaves to wrapping cakes.
They take pride in their products that are praised for being both tasty and well-wrapped.
Cao Thon Village

Photo credit: VnExpress

Technically located in the neighboring Hung Yen Province, but only 40 kilometers from the capital city, Cao Thon has made incense products for more than 200 years.
The village often strikes visitors with stunning displays of colorful products being sundried, and fragrances from herbs and spices used to make incense.
The sights and smells just get stronger these days, as villagers are working around the clock to produce aromatic incense sticks and coils for the festive season.

Photo credit: VnExpress

Incense is used widely by Vietnamese when they celebrate their Lunar New Year.
Whatever religion they follow, a majority of Vietnamese burn incense sticks and coils and put them on their ancestry altars on New Year’s Eve and during the first three days of the festival.
It is believed that incense helps warm up the living’s houses as well as the deceased’s spirits.
Nhat Tan Village

 Photo credit: Thanh Nien Online

About ten days before Tet, Vietnamese people would visit gardens or markets to buy flowers for decoration. While southerners traditionally display mai (apricot blossom) during Tet, northerners choose dao (peach blossom).
Just seven kilometers from the capital city, Nhat Tan Village is a popular venue among locals and people from neighboring areas.
Skilled farmers here are able to create peach flowers that have multiple colors and shapes. Peach trees are also bent into stunning shapes. 
The village attracts many people who come to take photographs of beautiful blossoming trees or pose with them. Non-shoppers are charged at least VND30,000 (US$1.4) to enter these flower gardens.
Cu Da Village

Photo credit: VnExpress

Cu Da villagers make cellophane noodles all year round, but they race against time before Tet to meet the increased demand. The yellow, sometimes white, transparent noodles are an important part of Vietnamese cuisine during the New Year festival.
Made from canna starch, Cu Da noodles are known for chewiness and sweetness.
Silky yellow noodles against old brown houses make a striking sight at the village, which is less than 20 kilometers from Hanoi.
Phu Dien Village

Photo credit: VnExpress

Vietnamese traditionally display five fruits on their ancestry altars during Tet. The fruits, however, vary from one region to another.
Southerners choose fruits whose names make up a wish for a good year, while northerners choose those that carry colors representing the Five Elements -- Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Grapefruits grown in the village of Bac Tu Liem District are popular not only because they have impressive yellow color that represents Earth, but they are juicy, sweet and pleasantly fragrant.
It is said that Phu Dien grapefruits’ color and sweet taste will bring those who have them a wealthy and smooth year.
Visitors can buy the fruit at local gardens for VND30,000-60,000 each.
The original Vietnamese story can be found here on VnExpress