The holiday lasts for five days, after which the group starts planting the new crop.

Ha Nhi ethnic group's earthen-wall houses and traditional New Year celebration
Dao San Market: Panorama of Lai Chau life

The village of Thu Lum, in Muong Te District, Lai Chau Province. — VNA/VNS Photos Quy Trung

The group makes traditional food like sticky rice cakes, pork and chicken to offer to the ancestors to pray for favourable weather and bumper crops.

People get up early to make food for the holiday.

There are just 22,000 people in the group scattered across 32 provinces and cities throughout the country. They reside mostly in the northern provinces of Lai Chau, Lao Cai and Dien Bien.

Children and grandchildren visit their parents and grandparents to show respect and gratitude.

Xi Xa Xe, 79, who lives in Thu Lum Village, Thu Lum Commune, Muong Te District, said the first night of the holiday is considered their New Year’s Eve.

The next morning, people get up early to fetch water from the stream to make food and to offer to the ancestors.

A little boy carries a chicken home from his grandparents' house. Grandparents and parents give their offspring small chickens or pigeons as lucky gifts.

They believe fetching water will bring them luck. If they have plenty of water to use on the first day of the year, then they will have sufficient water for the whole year for daily use and farming.

The Ha Nhi also have custom of fortune telling using a pig’s liver. The liver they take from the pig that is slaughtered for the festival feast tells them about the health of family members and farming production for the year.

People examine a pig's liver to forecast the coming year.

That same pig is reared throughout the year to gain weight, sometimes up to 100kg, because the bigger the pig, the bigger the harvest!

Ha Nhi people make simple food to offer their ancestors like sticky round cakes, boiled sticky rice balls, wine, ginger, salt, red pepper, steamed rice, port and chicken. The women are responsible for praying at an altar dedicated to their husband’s ancestors, which is often set at the head of the bed, while another dedicated to the wife’s ancestors is placed in a corner of the kitchen.

On the fifth day of the holiday, families make a meal to offer Heaven and Earth to wish for good luck.

During the holiday, people of all ages wear their best clothes. They take part in various folk games, sing and dance.

Ly Anh Hu, an official from Muong Te District’s Party Committee, said local life had improved thanks to favourable State policies.

New roads have been built and others upgraded to facilitate traffic.

“People now enjoy the lunar new year more as their incomes have improved thanks to policies encouraging agriculture and farming issued by the State and local authorities,” he said. — VNS

Wedding customs of the Ha Nhi ethnic group

Wedding customs of the Ha Nhi ethnic group

Expressing one’s love through music, running away to the beloved’s house, and scaling money on the wedding day are some of the unique wedding customs of the Ha Nhi ethnic people in Muong Te district, Lai Chau province.