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Hanoi village harvests wrapping leaves for Tet
By Thanh Nien News -
 

A Trang Cat villager brings a sheaf of dong leaves.

A dong field in Trang Cat Village.

A woman cuts off dong leaves.

This woman selects the greener and better-looking leaves.

After cutting off large dong leaves, villagers always leave some young ones behind so that the plants can keep growing.

A man gathers dong leaves after harvest.

The harvested leaves are bound in sheaves.

A man brings a sheaf of dong leaves home.

A woman classifies dong leaves: the larger and better-looking ones will be used to make banh chung while the remaining ones will be used to make other cakes.

Trang Cat villagers usually harvest dong leaves 3-4 weeks before the Tet holiday.

Nguyen Thi Nga, 83, said she started doing this when she was young.

Dong leaves can only stay fresh for 2-3 weeks, so people have to put the leaves in water and sometimes treat them like flowers.

Nguyen Kim Duc, 85, said some Trang Cat villagers had turned to other businesses as this business of growing dong plants and preparing dong leaves is hard and not so profitable.

A woman pulls a cart of dong leaves home.

A sheaf of 100 large dong leaves usually costs VND100,000, while a sheaf of smaller leaves costs VND40,000-50,000.

Trang Cat villagers said dong leaves are not as good this year as in previous years.

Dong sheaves pile up on the roadside.

A villager transports dong leaves to Hanoi for sale.

A rural village outside Hanoi is always busy during the days before the Lunar New Year Tet holiday.
Villagers harvest dong leaves, used the wrapping of the traditional banh chung, a square-shaped glutinous rice cake with mung bean paste and pork filling. 
The Trang Cat Village in Hanoi’s Thanh Oai District has been widely known in northern Vietnam for its 600-year history of growing dong plants for the perfectly green leaves. 
The villagers sell the leaves all year round for people to make banh chung and the Vietnamese sausage gio cha.
But they are especially busy in the month before Tet as they need to take good care of the dong leaves so that the leaves look great for the most important holiday of the year. 
Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency