The Zhuangcall this event the longtong festival (Chinese translation: 隴洞: /longdong/), is said to be the of the same origin with what of the ethnic Tay and Nung in the Northeast Vietnam. The third-of-March longtong festival of the Zhuang, taken shape long time ago, is said to be locally pure (out of Han nature). According to the ancient historical books, the Zhuang’s ancestors had got this festival organized yearly before the Qin-Han’s conquest [Xiang Nan 1985: 40]. There exist four theories recently to explain its origin. Firstly, the longtong festival on the third of March derived from the ancient religious activities of extolling the gods. In the acncient time, the Zhuang’s ancestry, due to the inadequateness in cognition towards the nature, failed to understand and control the natural dangers, finally decided to organize the singing longtong festival in each lunar year. They wished to have the gods’ blessings in return. The book Shuo Man (说蛮, Talk about the Barbarians) recorded: "The Dong() (垌人).. gather to sing in two seasons: spring and autumn, men and women sing in the strange ways.. "[Xiang Nan 1985: 40]. The second theory claims that the festival originated from the labor (work). The writer Lu Xun (鲁迅) said "poetry derives from work and religion. Firstly, singing while working can help them forget the hardship"[Xiang Nan 1985: 40; Lu Min’fei 1985: 27]. Perhaps the heavy agricultural works have induced the Zhuang to sing, both to forget the hardships and to seek for or strengthen the human relationships necessary for their life. In Song dynasty, Zhou Qu’fei (周去非) in the book Ling Wai Dai Da (领外代答) mentioned "in the districts of Guangxi, when people see the others, they gather happily... the heavy works in the ricefields cann’t stop them from singing.. "[Xiang Nan 1985: 40]. The third theory states that the festival took its formation from the demand of finding spouse. Likely because of the dispersal in the large living space, the Zhuang’s ancestors came to a compromise that the longtong festival would be held annually on the third of March, so that single men and women can join the exchange fair. Gradually, the festival got enlarged in scale, there found the old and the young participating in it, too. It then becomes a public cultural activity until today. The present festival still shows many relating vestiges such as choosing spouse by joining the duet songs, throwing the lucky ball to select friend (or spouse) etc… The last theory asserts that it was once the ritual to celebrate the ancestry. Some writers presume that the festival is to commemorate the heroic lady Liu San Jie (刘三姐) (), some affirm the origin of memorizing the miserable couples being harmed to dead by the local feudal forces (), and some others suggest the idea of the rituals celebrating the common ancestry of the Zhuang, etc...
Describing the scene (atmostphere) in the longtong festival in Zhuang area, the poet Wei Feng’hua (韦丰华) in Poem on the Bamboo Branches by Liu River (廖江竹枝词) inspired:
Tentative translation version:
"The spring rain follows the warm spring winds
It brings the green covering all the hills
Looking around in the surrounding forests
There show the colourful blossoms in this day - the third of March,
Around the village, the food, the wine are well-prepared
There come the smell of the newly-harvested cooked sticky rice
Full of the hills, the singing voice spreads
There find the men and women beautiful in their new make-up around the village”.
In consideration on the form of th event, two main types can be indentified. (1) the type of gathering and singing outdoor, either in the hills or in the grass fields, called "outdoor singing platform" (野歌墟, wild singing place). The “outdoor singing platform” is usually organized at day time, sometimes extends until midnight. This kind of longtong festival seems to be fit well with crowded villages and townships because it can attract a great number of participants, both the singers and the audiences. During the festival time, young men and women, ones follow the others, join the duet songs, not for competing but for exchanging their wholehearted emotions, praising their ancestors, expressing their passionate loves towards their homeland, their family, their friends and the whole community etc.. Singing contents cover a large scale of social aspects, from emotional feelings to astronomical, geographical, historical and agricultural knowledges. (2) The second type of the festival, called “night singing fair” (夜歌会), is usually held indoor (village common houses, local lords’ houses etc.) and at night time. The limited space indoor thus restricts the number of the participants. This type of festival seems to be popular in small-size villages or within the the family clans. Some families take advantage of the occasion to organize the wedding ceremonies for their children, accordingly, the festival’s atmostphere gets to be more colourful, busier and happier. The popular songs presented during the festival are often of 4-sentence length, each sentence consits of five single words, one fits the others by complying with the poetric regulations (prosody). However, the singers can find it free to compose or choose the songs of free forms provided that they have suitable meanings.
The magnificence of the festival is more beautified by many public games like ball-throwing (to choose the sweetheart), fireworks burning (at night time), hoopl-la playing, tugging (pulling), crossbow shooting etc.. Some places also organize dragon/lion dancing, tea-picking dancing, drama performing, so on. The activities, one takes over from the other, last as long as three days.
In consideration on the meanings, the festival can be seen as important occasion for younger generations to learn the living and working experiences from the olders as well as to assure the non-stop flow of Zhuang culture on its correct orbit, especially in the old time when the Zhuang hadnot got their own writing system existing. Accordingly, the festival shows the values of building and cementing the community as well as the community spirit through the public activities during the festival time. It can be also seen as a bridge of emotional exchanges within the young people. At a certain level, the festival itself contains humane values for it helps avoid the unexpected incestuous marriages between local men and women in small and seperated villages in moutainous areas.
Beside the Zhuang, some other ethnic minorities in South China also celebrate the festival of the third-of-March. The Dong (侗族) calls it "the fireworks festival" (花炮节), they often burn fireworks, open buffalo fighting, horse racing, perform duet singing and bamboo dancing etc. The Buyei (布依族) set up offerings (flowers, cooked yellow sticky rice, pork, chicken etc.) to sacrifice to the land gods and the mountain gods; some villages organize the event of killing the harmful insects on the rice fields; therefore, the festival is also addressed “the land insect festival” (地蚕会). The Buyei people in Gui’yang (capital city of Gui’zhou province) get their own way of celebrating the festival: cleanning and decorating the ancestral graves. The Yao ethnic group (瑶族) call it "The dry festival" (干巴节). They go fishing in groups and share the fishes equally. The She (畲族) considers the third of March is the rice’s birthday, they especially cook the black rice to offer the ancestry and set up special parties. The Bai (白族) also organize the duet singing activities, some women burn the incense in the temples to wish for new children. The Li (黎族) in Hainan island address it "fu’nian’fu" (孚念孚), also called “the day of love”. Usually, the traditional hunting ceremony is held on the day while young men and women find themselve interested in duet singing. According to the Li’s folklore, this festival origiated from the legend "Bai’ling bird (the lark)" (). Another theory states that the festival originated from the legend of the great Flood, accordingly, only a man and his sister survived, both got married with each other to father the ethnic group of Li(). The Shui (水族), the Hmong (苗族, also called Miao), the Ge Lao (仡佬族) and the Mao Nan (毛南族) also enjoy the festival of the third-of-March. The Han (汉族) has their own way of spending the day. They call it “Shang’si festival" (上巳节, si (巳) = the sixth position in the Oriental zodiac), became popular as the day of washing up (as to cast off the diseases and evils) from Han dynasty (recorded in the chapter Rituals 1, Books of Later Han (後漢書.禮儀志上)). Laterly, more outdoor activities have been added, such as going out for pleasure (踏青), opening parties on the riverside etc.. Unlike the Northern Chinese, the Holos and Hokkiens in Taiwan and Fujian() climb up the mountains to pick up the cudweed herb (鼠曲草) and make traditional cakes to offer the ancestors. Similarly, the Cantonese people (mixed Han group of ancient Nam Viet (南越) and the Han immigrants from the Central Plain [Jiang Bing’zhao.. 1988]) also cook sticky cakes to sacrifice their ancestry. The local Han people in Hunan and Hubei (ancient Duong Viet (杨越), Chu (楚国) before the Han conquest) prepare the foods with vegetables, eggs, red apples and yellow beans to eat [http://bk.baidu.com/view/26887.htm].
In Vietnam, the Viet and some ethnic groups in northeast areas celebrate the festival the third-of-March, popularly called Cold Food Festival (tet Han thuc). In consideration on the origin, there currently exists the explanation that the Cold Food Festival was transmitted from China and associated with the death of the Jin state’s master Jie Zi’tui (介子推, (?-BC 636[baike.baidu.com]) in the Spring-Autumn period. He was completely loyal to the Jin prince Chong Er (重耳), unluckily, when Chong Er became the king Jin Wen Gong (晋文公), all madarins were rewarded except him. He was upset, finally left the court to live quietly in Tian Mountain (田山). Laterly, Jin Wen Gong remembered him, appointed people to find and invite him back to the court. He refused and moved to shelter in the center of the forest. The king ordered to burn the forest with the hope that Jie Zi’tui will step out and return to the court. Unexpectedly, he was burnt with the forest. It was the day the fifth of March. The king regulated the whole state of Jin not to make any fire within three days (starting from the third-of-March) to commemorate him. People had to eat cold food in those days. Gradually, the starting day has become the Cold-Food festival [Phan Ke Binh reprint 2003: 62; Anh Toan 1997 : 98-102]. Some said that the Cold-Food festival was transmitted into Vietnam from the Ly dynasty (AD 10th-12th century) [forum.ctu.edu.vn], however, the Vietnamese "only make bánh trôi – bánh chay to offer the ancestry and eat instead of the cold food, no one remembers the Jin’s master Jie Zi’tui. Cooking is free on the day”[vi.wikipedia.org].
Beside the Viet, the Tay and the Nung() also celebrate the similar event. Since the festival the third-of-March is close to the traditional Grave-visiting festival (tết Thanh minh); therefore, they combine to have them organized magnificently. They cook special cakes and foods such as bánh củ chuối (banana bulb cake), bánh chứng kiến (witness cake), bánh gai (glutinous rice cake dyed black in a concoction of leaves), bánh mật (molasses-sweetened glutinous rice cake) etc.. to offer the ancestry. The villages become busier, people, one follows the other, reach the ancestral graveyards to clean and decorate the tombs. Houses become crowded with guests; therefore, the atmostphere becomes extraordinarily colourful. Some provinces such as Bac Kan consider the day the third of March the sencond important festival, just after the Lunar New Year [baobackan.org.vn].
The peoples of Northeast Asia such as Korean and Japanese have no similar cultural activities held on the third of March. Insteads, the Japanese organize the Hina Matsuri (doll festival) for baby girls [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinamatsuri].
II – ANALYSIS
The festival the third-of-March in the Zhuang’s and other ethnic minorities’ cultures is originally a festival of Southern agriculture. In terms of space and subject, the festival is mostly popular in the cultures of the peoples in South China as well as mainland Southeast Asia. Specifically, together with the Viet, the Tay, the Nung in Vietnam, the Zhuang, the Dong, the Buyei, the Shui, The Mao Nan, the Li, the Hmong, the Yao, the She, etc. are all southern agrarian residents. Historically, they may be the descendants of the Hundred-Viet and Hmong-Yao races in the ancient time. The festival the third-of-March does not associate with the master Jie Zi’tui or the habit of eating cold foods as the North Chinese do. Truthfully, the Han people in the North and in the South also have different concepts towards the festival. The former calls it “Shang’si festival” which is associated with the legend The Queen Mother of the West (西王母) hosting the Peach Party (蟠桃盛会) to receive the heavenly gods and goddesses. Later on, from the Han dynasty, it has become the day of The Queen Mother of the West as well as the day of washing up to sweep away the spiritual diseases and evils [http://bk.baidu.com/view/26887.htm]. At a certain level, these activities present the religious meanings (mostly Taoism), instead of emphasizing the values of building, cementing and protecting the community. On the other hand, Northern Chinese farmers regard the day the second of February (二月二) more important than the day the third of March. It is called the Dragon Head Day (龍頭節), indicating the situation that the constellations of Blue Dragon() in the group of 28-stars (二十八星宿) has begun rising up its head from the eastern horizon. It gives the signals of the real spring time and the upcoming rains [Nguyen Ngoc Tho 2003] as described in the saying "In the second of February, the dragon raises its head up, the bigger sheds get full, the smaller get overflowed (二月二,龍抬頭；大倉滿，小倉流) [http://cn.netor.com/know/tcustom/tcust10.htm]. Only the Han communities in Southern China such as in Fujian, Ling’nan, Dongting Lake regions and Taiwan currently still celebrate the agricultual festival the third-of-March, still cook special foods to offer the ancestry. Historically, these Han communities are said to be direct descendands of or closely associated with the Hundred-Viet race in the ancient time. As mentioned, Fujian was once the land of Man Viet (闽越 Minyue), Taiwan was Di Viet (夷越 Yiyue), Guangdong was Nam Viet (南越 Nanyue), Dongting Lake zone was originally Duong Viet (杨越 Yangyue) and Can Viet (干越 Ganyue) laterly replaced by the state of Chu (楚国) [Chen Guo’qiang.. 1988]. At this point, one can see that the traditional agrarian festival the third-of-March (the Zhuang’s longtong) has been only popular from South China lands (South of Yangtzi River) to Mainland Southeast Asia – the cradle of wet-rice civilization in the ancient time. In term of cultural time, the festival is held at the most beautiful time of the new spring with warm weather and clear sky (closely to tết Thanh minh() day (Grave-visiting day)). In such an environment, people get much of inspiration and eagerness to join the singing and other public cultural activities. From 2007, the Chinese Central Government starts regulating the Grave-visiting day (清明节), Mid-Autumn Day (中秋节) and the seventh of July (七夕节) the national official holidays. The day the third of March is obviously not in their consideration. In general, I can come to the conclusion that the non-Han festival the third-of-March firstly originated in the South and in the agricultural background, was laterly transmitted to and localized in the North by having it attached with the legend of Jie Zi’tui being burnt to dead.
Secondly, according to the writter Tran Ngoc Them [2001: 120-121], agricultural residents of the South have the tradition of appreciating the odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) rather than the even numbers (2,4,6,8,10). Therefore, one can see in the lunar year round, the day of double odd number such as the first of January (New Year); the third of March (singsing festival, longtong), the fifth of May (Double Five festival, Hot festival); the seventh of July (Double Seven festival, Ngau festival ); the ninth of September (Double Nine festival) are all important traditional festivals. Unlike the Southern peoples, the Northern Chinese join the festivals associated with both odd numbers and even numbers. The above-mentioned Dragon Head Day (2/2), the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympic 2008 carrying out at 8:00 pm on the 8th of August, 2008 can be seen as typical examples. Additionally, according to Tran Ngoc Them [2001: 63-68], the present Chinese culture is the result of the process of synthetization of multi-sources, in which the Central Plain culture and the Southern cultures (Hundred-Viet, Miao-Yao) are two important streams; therefore, it is understandable why the Chinese both pay prior regards to the festivals associated with even numders and also join the festivals with odd numbers. As recorded in Chinese ancient book, the activities on the third of March in North China only took shape in Han dynasty (chapter Rituals 1, Book of Later Han 後漢書.禮儀志上) [http://bk.baidu.com/view/26887.htm], right after China’s conquest in South Yangtzi River lands.
Thirdly, the values of building, cementing and protecting the community presented in the festival the third-of-March of the Zhuang and the other Southern minorities are said to be important natures of the agrarian culture. This is a significant chance of hosting the public activities necessary to strengthen the public relations after the long cold winter. They also find the festival the great chance of exchanging the precious living and working experience from generations to generations. As early as the BC 6th century, the spring custom of the ancient Hundred-Viet people was once noted in the song The song of the Viet boat-person (越人歌)，laterly recorded by Chinese mandarin Liu Xiang in West Han dynasty (刘向) (79-8 trCN). The Chu lord of E prefecture (鄂郡) named Zi Xi (鄂君子皙) was “travelling” (逾渗) on the spring boat rowed by a Viet boat lady (presumably Duong Viet lady (杨越)) in lake Liangzi (梁子湖) in the middle of Yangtzi River (presently Hubei, China). The lady sang a song in local language, the lord was attracted, then requested to be translated and commanded his inferiors to record the song [Lin He 1989: 121-137]. Liu Xiang’s word “逾渗 (travelling)” is truthfully a Chinese word, however it expresses th idea of “going out for pleasures", "visiting each other" by river way in spring time (three points the the first part of the word “渗” indicates the water environment). Presumably, "travelling (逾渗)" was once the special activities of the ancient Hundred-Viet residents in the festival the third-of-March.
Fourthly, the festival longtong of the Zhuang associating with the legend of Liu San Jie can be seen as another Southern characteristic. In the cultural background of ancient Southeast Asia where goddess beliefs are extraordinarily popular(), the situation of longtong festival deeply expresses the Southern nature. Liu San Jie was honoured the singsing fairy, her songs were to praise the labor values of Southern farmers and to strengthen the community spirit. In some aspects, she can be understood as the symbol of the resistance of the Zhuang towards the contemporary centralization process. Beside Liu San Jie, there were several similar heroic women in Hundred-Viet history such as Dragon Mother (温龍姬，BC 2nd century)(), Hai Ba Trung (Two Trung Kings, AD 1st century), Xian Lady (冼夫人, AD 6th century)() etc.
Getting back into Vietnamese culture, the theory explaining the origin of the third-of-March festival transmitted from China and associated with the legend of Jie Zi’tui is not persuasive. Regarding to cultural space and subject, Vietnamese ancestry – ancient cultural subject in Vietnam – were mainly the Lac Viet residents (駱越)(). As demostrated by archaeology, linguistics and history sciences, they were pure wet-rice farmers and have extremely close cultural and historical relations with the Tay, the Nung in Northeast Vietnam and the Zhuang, the Shui, the Mao Nan, the Buyei, the Li in South China. Living in the ancient Hundred-Viet family with such prominent festival, Lac Viet residents were surely not excluded. Perhaps in the process of cultural exchanges (both voluntary and forced) with the Chinese during a-thousand-year period, the festival’s real name and meaning have faded and been changed into a newly imported name “Cold Food festival” associated with the legend Jie Zi’tui from Chinese culture although it has been then localized at the highest level: people eat banh troi - banh chay on the day and do not need to know who Jie Zi’tui was [vi.wikipedia.org; dulichvietnam.com.vn..; catholic.org.tw..; www.vnn.vn..]. This is surely the live vestige of the traditional local festival the third-of-March. In comparison to the Tay, the Nung (Vietnam), the Zhuang, the Shui, the Buyei (China) mainly living in mountainous areas and having less exchange chanels with the Chinese people, it is understandable why Vietnamese festival has been presumably replaced by the newly-imported one. Similarly, the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) used to be held in the month of the rat (the first month in ancient Vietnamese calendar, equivalent to the present lunar November), then was also replaced by the Chinese-style New Year held on the month of the tiger (currently lunar January). If the festival the third-of-March was exactly imported from the North (as said by Phan Ke Binh [2003: 62]), then there would not had only the festivals associated with the odd numbers being celebrated, but also the ones associated with the even numbers getting existed, too. However, Vietnamese people pay no regard to days of even numbers such as the above-mentioned Dragon Head Day (2nd, February)().
In term of time, the third of March is the intersection moment of two sets of weather. The serious cold weather has gone far away, Nang Ban chill() has just passed, there come the warm spring winds and yet the harvest season has not reached. It is really one of the most beautiful moments of the year. Such remark can be checked in the description of the poet Nguyen Du on the Thanh minh Day (about a couple of days after the third of March in lunar year):
"Thanh minh trong tiết tháng ba
Lễ là tảo mộ, hội là đạp thanh
Gần xa nô nức yến anh
Chị em sắm sửa bộ hành chơi xuân”
(The Thanh minh festival in lunar March, grave-visiting makes the rituals, going outdoor for pleasures forms the festive atmostphere. Within the day, parties are held animatedly everywhere, the ladies are beautiful in new clothes for spring travellings) (Nguyen Du)
One can see the details "nô nức yến anh" (parties are held animatedly), "chị em sắm sửa bộ hành chơi xuân" (the ladies are beautiful in new clothes for spring travellings) entirely similar to the ending description of the poet Wei Feng’hua above: “…急漫歌聲風外起, 家家兒女靚新妝” (..Full of the hills, the singing voice spreads; There find the men and women beautiful in their new makeup around the village).
In the present Vietnamese popular culture, some more vestiges associated with the festival the third-of-March could be found. Phu Giay Festival (Vu Ban District, Nam Dinh province) worshipping Lieu Hanh goddess opens from the first to the tenth of March, however, the main rituals are held on the day the third of March [http://www.vinatour.com.vn], as described by popular people in the saying “Tháng tám giỗ cha, tháng ba giỗ mẹ” (The August welcomes the Father’s anniversary (Tran Hung Dao’s) while the Mother festival (Lieu Hanh’s) is on the March”. Only a week later, the whole nation celebrates the great anniversary of Kings Hung (10th of March). This is also the time of spring activities opened around in Kinh Bắc() area, such as the singing festival of Thẩm Lệ [Tran Thi Tuong Vinh 2008: vanhoahoc.edu.vn], Lim festival and a series of spring festivals organized widespreadingly in the North and Northeast Vietnam.
In addition to the festival the third-of-March, there have many other traditional festivals held all year round: the Tết Xuân (Lunar New Year, the 1st of lunar January), Tất Đoan ngọ (Mid-year festival or Double Five festival, the 5th of May) and Tết Ngâu (Short and Sudden Rain festival, the 7th of July) and tết Trùng cửu (Double Nine festival, the 9th of September)(). In consideration on the Double Five festival, while the Chinese people celebrate it as to commemorate the great Chu mandarin Qu Yuan (屈原, Khuất Nguyên), the Vietnamese take it as the insect/bacteria-killing festival (to protect the crop and the physical health). Actually, it is the hottest day in the year. The term Đoan ngọ indicates the meaning “the hottest” (Đoan: the most, ngọ: the sixth position of Vietnamese zodiac, corratively the period from 11 am to 1pm in a day). In such a day, the Vietnamese eat bánh trôi nước (marble dumplings made of white rice flour and sugar fillings), drink cơm rượu (fermented glutinous rice), green banana (as to kill the bacteria), go picking herbs(), organize boat racing or go swimming on the river. Similarly, tết Ngâu (Double Seven Festival) is seen as an important milestone of the Southern weather: the season of short and sudden rains. The Chinese people associate the festival with the legend of Ngưu Lang – Chức Nữ (牛郎-织女, Buffalow Man – Weaving Girl), however, the previous researches demonstrates that it once originated from the South and still consists of the Southern agricultural nature: buffalo-herding, rice planting, weaving, the relative equal relationship between human (Nguu Lang) and the heavenly fairy (Chuc Nu) etc. [Tran Ngoc Them 2001: 80-81]. Together with these two traditional festivals, Vietnam surely once had the local festival the third-of-March other than the Cold Food Festival. We can visualize that our ancestry - Lac Viet residents, had got such a public holiday. Presumably, they got involved in cooking special foods and bánh trôi – bánh chay (mentioned above) as it is still existing today, participating in singing and other public activities, visiting the relatives and villagers to build up and strengthen the community relations (as called "travelling (逾渗)" by Chinese mandarin Liu Xiang (mentioned above), opening the ploughing ceremonies (such as longtong() ceremonies of the Zhuang in China, the Tay, the Nung in Vietnam, and the similar ploughing ceremony (nghi lễ xuống đồng) in the Viet culture) etc.. Perhaps, due to different reasons, these activities have been moved to Thanh minh festival a couple of days later as said in Nguyen Du’s poem: “Thanh minh trong tiết tháng ba, lễ là tảo mộ hội là đạp thanh” (In Thanh minh festival in lunar March, grave-visiting makes the rituals, going outdoor forms the festive atmostphere). The combination of the festival the third-of-March and Thanh minh festival in the ethnic Tay and Nung in Northeast Vietnam [baobackan.org.vn] can be seen as the live sign of that situation.
From the above analysis, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. The longtong festival of the Zhuang or the festivals the third-of-March of the other ethnic minorities in South China are pure agricultural festivals, they had been once popular before the Han conquest; the Han Chinese laterly adopted and centralized it into Han culture by associating with the legend Jie Zi’tui and the Cold Food Festival. This conclusion can be detailed by the following points:
- The festival originated before the Han conquest and was then transmitted into Han culture,
- The festival’s form, activity details and meanings are truly associated with the Southern agricultural nature which are totally different from the Northern Han tradition (such as Shang si festival, Cold Food Festival, Grave-visiting festival etc..),
- The Han Chinese in North China adopted and centralized it into Han culture by associating with the legend of Jie Zi’tui; therefore, it becomes less colourful and less significant in comparison with the grave-visiting festival just a few days later.
2. In Vietnamese cultural tradition, there was once the pure local festival the third-of-March existing popularly before the Han conquest. However, after the long period of cultural exchanges with the Han Chinese, it has changed into the present Cold Food Festival althought its cultural implication still expresses the local meanings: cooking special foods and bánh trôi – bánh chay to offer ancestry; hosting spring public activities (duet singing, bamboo-dancing, visiting and travelling around etc), openning the ploughing rituals (the so called longtong in Zhuang language)), and other cultural events.
It is necessary to restore the real Vietnamese festival the third-of-March as it once was. Let us and our children think and answer the question raised on the website http://www.informatik.uni-leipzig.de/~duc/sach/phongtuc/cau_101.html as well as the wonder of many other Vietnamese people: "In our country, there have been so many great heroes (celebrities) during the long history, however, they have not been commemorated as solemnly as the two foreign men? () "
1. Ngoc Lan, “The Grave-Visiting Festival”, Bac Kan electronic newspaper, website: http://www.baobackan.org.vn/detail.asp?news_id=8410&;cat_id=12, 2007.
2. Nguyen Ngoc Tho, Understanding on Chinese dragon, MA dissertation in culturology, 2007.
3. Nguyen Ngoc Tho, “Viet Nhan Ca – the song of the Viet boat-person”, www.vanhoahoc.edu.vn; Tuoi Tre Chu nhat, No.36 (16/9/2007), pgs. 34-35, 2007.
4. Nguyen Ngoc Tho, “Goddess beliefs in Chinese Ling’nan area”, www.vanhoahoc.edu.vn
5. Office of International Politic and Economy, Service of Foreign Affairs of Ho Chi Minh City, “The processes of forming and developing of the Zhuang nationality in China and its culture”, http://www.mofahcm.gov.vn/vi/tintuc_sk/tulieu/nr051205111332/nr051206152531/ns060419150758/newsitem_print_preview , 2006
6. Toan Anh, Study on Vietnamese customs through festivals, Dong Thap Publishing House, 1997.
7. Tran Ngoc Them 2001: Discovering Vietnamese cultural identities, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing House. Re-editions published in 2004, 2006.
8. Tran Thi Vinh Tuong, “To the spring festival in Viet Bac”, www.vanhoahocv.edu.vn, 2008.
9. Vu The Ngoc, “The meaning of national name Lac Viet”, http://www.vietnamgiapha.com, 2005.
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11. 童健飛, “醉人的歌墟”, 《廣西少數民族風情錄》 廣西民族出版社, 4-8頁, 1984 (Tong Jian’fei, “The moving singing festival”, The collection of folk customs of ethnic minorities in Guangxi, Guangxi Nationality Press, pgs. 4-8, 1984).
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() The old name of the Zhuang, different from the present Dong nationality (侗族).
() A Zhuang lady residing in North Guangxi (Liu’zhou) in Tang Dynasty. She was very smart, beautiful and especially good at singing, thus honoured as fairy singer. Liu San Jie’s songs were to praise the works and loves. Some local lords (土司) in the village got to be in irritating feeling, began to try to harm her. On the third of March of a lunar year, Liu climbed up the mountains to get wood, the local lords commanded people to break the stony cliffs, the mountain became decomposed, Liu was killed. People of later generations started opening the “singing festival” on the third of March to memomorate her.
() L'chang (勒貌) and L'qiao (勒俏) falled in love. Unluckily, L’qiao was determined to marry an old man. After a short time, she escaped to find L’chang, both ran away from the village. L'qiao family and the husband angrily looked for to punish the couple. L’chang and L’qiao had no way better than committing suicide. It was on the third of March they passed away. The villagers began to organize the longtong festival to memorize them.
() Once, the Seven-Finger Range (七指山) in Hainan island faced a fatal drought, brave A’yin (亚银) climbed up the mountain and wistled by his nose in three days three nights. A lark flied across the valley, A’yin chased the bird, the bird then turned into be a beautiful woman, two became a couple living in the cave. The local lord was too jealous that commanded his people to burn the cave. The mountain decomposed and crushed both the couple and the lord. A’yin and his wife turned into a couple of birds flying up to the sky. The villagers got to know the event, gathering around the mountain to sing and dance to wish the couple well.
() Once, there was a great flood that killed all people except a man and his sister hiding inside a calabash. They seperated each other to find their own spouse and promised to return home at the third of March of the following year. There was no one else alive. They both used bamboo stick to tattoo their face and body so that their sibling could not recognize. They returned home as promised. They met each other and set up a family. Their children then became the ancestors of the Li.
() Present Jujian province of China was once the state of Man Viet (闽越) of Hundred-Viet community before the Han conquest in 2nd century AD. Similarly, Taiwan island was the land of Di Viet (夷越) [Jiang Bing’zhao.. 1988].
() Ethnic groups living in the northeast areas, are said to have close relations with the Zhuang of China in term of racial origin.
() The constellation Blue Dragon (青龙) includes 7 stars: 角, 亢, 氐, 房, 心, 尾, 箕.
() Thanh minh: purely clear (sky)
() written in the book Shuo Yuan (説苑)
() Many Western scholars address "Southeast Asia is the land of matriarchy" (le Pays du Matrircat) [Tran Ngoc Them 2004: 44]. Lieu Hanh, Thien Y Yana Ponagar in Viet Nam; Mazu (Tin Hau), Dragon Mother, Xian Lady in South China; Nang Nag, Mae Phra Phloeng, Phra Naret in Thailand, Hainuwele, Rice Mother in Indonesia etc. are popular goddesses [Nguyen Ngoc Tho 2008: www.vanhoahoc.edu.vn].
()Dragon Mother’s real name is Wen Long’ji (温龙姬), said to belong to ethnic Au Viet sub-group (瓯越) of Hundred-Viet race, took upper West River area as homeland (presently Teng District (藤县) of Guangxi). Her parents were unfortunately been killed by the flood, she was saved by an old fisherman named Liang San’gong (梁三公) in De’qing village. Dragon Mother was smart and filial. The legend said that thanks to raising 5 small dragons, she was called the Dragon Mother. Later, she merged the Au Viet tribes in upper and middle lands of West River to fight against Qin’s invasion. After death, she was honoured the respected goddess controlling the large areas of lands in middle and upper West River [Ou Yu’qing 2002].
()Xian Lady (冼夫人), born in 520, died in 601 (), Nam Viet people(南越), lived in Ding Village (丁村) (Shan’Dou Mountain (山蔸), Dian’bai area (电白), Gao’liang District (高粱); presently known as Dian Town, Dian’bai District, Maoming, Guangdong). She was the leader of local Nam Viet (南越) and Lac Viet (骆越) residents through Liang Dynasty (502-557), Chen Dynasty (557-589) and Sui Dynasty (581 -618), famous for gathering and controlling the local residents in receiving and adjusting the harmonious life with new-coming Han culture (recorded in Sui Book (隋书)). Xian Lady was married to a Han madarin called Han Phung Bao (冯宝), the local governor. After death, she was embellished to be a goddess, worshipped in large areas throughout southwestern Guangdong and Hainan island [Zhao Wu’ki, Li Xun’jue 2004].
() A sub-group of ancient Hundred-Viet race living mainly in North Vietnam as well as the Gulf of Tonkin in Guangxi and Lei’zhou penisula in Guangdong, China
() In Vietnamese traditional cognitive culture, the even numbers (2,4,6,8,10) are yin numbers, refering to the death [Tran Ngoc Them 2002].
() Nang Ban is said to be the princess of Jade Emporer of the Heaven, clumsy in personality. In winder, she begins sewing a warm coat for her husband, however, when she finishes, the winter has gone. Being moved by such situation, the Fade Emporer of Heaven decides the cold returns in couples of days so that her husband can try wearing the coat. Therefore, there is a Vietnamese popular saying “Nàng Bân may áo cho chồng, may ba tháng ròng mới trọn cổ tay” (There has been three months (of winter) gone away, however, Nang Ban just finishes sewing the hands of the warm coat for her husband)
() the northern land from the capital, presently covering Bac Ninh, Bac Giang provinces. Kinh Bắc is in accordance with Thành Nam (the Southern land from the capital), xứ Đông (the Eastern), xứ Đoài (the western).
() Tết Trùng cửu (Double Nine festival) has been no longer existed.
() Vietnamese people believe the herbs get their highest medical nature on the hottest moment in the hottest day (noon time of the Double Five festival).
() The term longtong in local languages means “ploughing”, or “going to the rice fields”. In Vietnamese language, it means “xuống đồng”.
() Jie Zi’tui in the Cold Food Festival and Qu Yuan in Mid-Lunar Year Festival.
() I am grateful to Prof. Tran Ngoc Them for his kind support to this paper.