Han Thuc Tet - Traditional beauty of Vietnamese people


Han Thuc Tet (Cold Food Tet), also known as the Floating Cake, Vegetarian Cake Tet, is celebrated on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month every year. This is a traditional holiday deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture. In 2024, the Cold Food Festival will occur on April 11 in the solar calendar.


The origin of Han Thuc Tet

The Han Thuc Tet originated in China and is associated with the story of Gioi Tu Thoi, a sage of the Spring and Autumn period. To escape the weather, Gioi Tu Thoi and his mother retreated to the mountains. When King Tan Van Cong returned, he burned the mountain to force Gioi Tu Thoi out, but he refused to submit. After Gioi Tu Thoi's sacrifice, King Tan Van Cong took the 3rd day of the third lunar month to commemorate him and named it the Cold Food Festival.

Floating Cake and Vegetarian Cake

Floating cake and vegetarian cake are familiar dishes during Tet, carrying good meanings and reflecting the cultural beauty and identity of the Vietnamese people. They are made from glutinous rice flour shaped into small balls and filled with rock sugar or green beans. Floating cake is typically enjoyed during the Cold Food Festival, on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month.

Floating cake and vegetarian cake has a sweet filling, usually rock sugar or green beans, while vegetarian cakes have a savory filling, typically green beans or black sesame. The process of making water drift cake is quite simple. First, people knead glutinous rice flour with water until it becomes smooth and flexible. Then, they shape the dough into small balls with filling inside. Floating Cake  is boiled in water until it floats. Water drift cake is often served with ginger sugar water.


Water drift cake is a delicious and meaningful dish, symbolizing family togetherness and reunion. It is also a traditional dish that expresses the cultural beauty of Vietnam.

The meaningful of Floating Cake and Vegetaian cake in Viet Nam

Floating Cake and Vegetarian Cake are both made from sticky rice flour, which holds great significance in Vietnamese wet rice culture, much like Banh Chung and Banh Giay. The image of floating and vegetarian cakes shaped into circles represents the tradition of "when drinking water, remember the source". The floating cake symbolizes the 50 children who followed Au Co's mother to the sea, while the vegetarian cake represents the 50 children who followed Lac Long Quan's father to the forest to build a prosperous and happy life for the world. 


Han Thuc Tet customs in Vietnam

  • During the Cold Food Festival, an offering tray is prepared for ancestors. It typically includes the following items:
  • Floating Cake, Vegetarian Cake: When offering Floating Cake and Vegetarian Cake, it is customary to have 3 or 5 bowls of vegetarian cake and 3 or 5 bowls of banh troi as the standard.
  • Fresh flowers, betel, and areca nuts: When making offerings, it's important to use flowers with auspicious meanings such as gerbera flowers and white lilies. Chrysanthemums, symbolizing good fortune and luck, are commonly used. Betel and areca nuts should be fresh and presented in odd numbers, typically 3 or 5 plates.
  • Five-fruit tray: This should include 5 different types of fruit, chosen according to family preferences. To wish for good things, 5 types of fruit representing the five elements can be chosen, such as yellow fruit for the Metal element and red fruit for the Fire element.
  • Clean water: Symbolizing purity, it represents the family's sincerity towards its ancestors.

The meaningful of Han Thuc Tet

Cold Food Festival is an important holiday in traditional Vietnamese culture, commemorating the merits of the ancestors who built and defended the country, and expressing gratitude to them. It is an opportunity for Vietnamese people to remember their ancestors' nurturing efforts, show respect and gratitude to the deceased, and gather together as families to preserve the traditional beauty of the nation.

In modern times, some customs during the Cold Food Festival are not as commonly practiced as before due to busy lives. However, the meaning and spiritual value of the Cold Food Festival are still preserved. Han Thuc Tet is a traditional cultural beauty that needs to be preserved and promoted in modern life, contributing to protecting the national cultural identity.

Other news