return icon Vietnamnet.vn

The culture of betel and areca

In the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people, chewing betel is not only a habit and a custom but also an element of the traditional cultural values.
In the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people, chewing betel is not only a habit and a custom but also an element of the traditional cultural values. Betel and areca are indispensable gifts in the engagement and wedding ceremonies as well as during conversations.

An age-old custom

Legend has it that the custom of chewing betel in Viet Nam has existed since the reign of the Hung Kings.

It is associated with the “Legend of Betel and Areca” about the faithfulness of a wife for her husband and the love between two siblings.

Betel and areca are used to start talking and help people become closer and more open with each other.

They serve as offerings in the important traditional ceremonies, such as the offering rituals, engagements and weddings, funerals and burials. They are a symbol of love, brotherhood, family and happiness.

Chewing betel is a popular practice of people from all walks of life, from normal people to the court and it has become a beautiful characteristic of the traditional culture.

It is the custom of not only the majority Kinh group, but also other ethnic groups, such as the Tay, Nung, Dao, Thai, Muong and San Diu in the northern areas, the Khmer, Bru, Edu and Cham living along the Truong Son Range and in the Central Highlands, and the Khmer in southern areas.

Apart from similarities, due to their different habitations and cultural spaces, the ethnic groups have their specific ways of chewing betel. The Muong, Thai and Ede people use the betel to entertain their guests while the Tay and Nung people use the betel in the ceremony of “tying the thread around the wrists of the bride and bridegroom.”

A betel kit

A betel quid consists of four materials: a wedge of an areca nut (which has a sweet taste), a betel leaf (spicy taste), a piece of bark of a special tree (bitter taste) and a little lime paste (hot taste).

All of them are chewed together, providing a delicious taste with red juice and freshness. The high areca tree symbolizes the heaven (Yang).

The lime symbolizes the earth (Yin). The custom of chewing betel is popular throughout Southeast Asia and the making of the betel leaves and areca wedges into beautiful shapes as well as the betel-inviting practice have become a form of artistic activities full of national identities.

Vietnamese women in traditional costumes making betel quids
Eternal fragrance and beauty

The custom of chewing betel in Viet Nam is mainly reflected in the betel kits since the Ly (1010-1225) and the Tran (1225-1400) Dynasties.

They include a knife for splitting the areca nuts and shaping the betel leaves, a pot of lime, a tube of lime paste, a little stick used to spread lime on the betel leaf and all of them are diverse in variety.

There are also trays, containers, baskets, boxes, bags and handkerchiefs to contain the betel, areca and small items.

For the elder people with weak teeth, there is a little spatula and a mortar to pound the betel and areca. In the betel kit, the lime pot is an important and indispensable item. In the past, it was respected as a god, so it is called “the Lime God.”

Betel offering ritual in Lim Festival, Bac Ninh Province

The betel and areca not only serve as offerings in the traditional ceremonies, but also have become a typical image of Vietnamese culture.

They usually appear in the folklore, folk verses, folk songs and festivals. Cao Nhan Village in Cao Nhan Communes, Thuy Nguyen District in the northern city of Hai Phong is known as an areca village.

During harvest time, bunches of areca nuts are piled up and the village is busy with many trucks carrying areca to many parts of the country.

In Phu Le Village, Lam Kiem Commune, Thach That District, Ha Noi, plates of betel and areca and lime pots can be seen everywhere, from the houses to the communal house and the fields.

During the Lim Festival in Bac Ninh held when Spring comes, the local girls wearing a kerchief (tied in a triangle on the forehead), a four-flap gown and a pink brassiere open their betel handkerchiefs to invite the men with betel and areca.

In the South, 18 betel garden villages were established in the beginning of the 17th century, associated with the time of reclaiming land to build the villages. They specialized in growing betel to provide for six southern provinces.

The betel and areca market on Le Quang Sung in District 6, Ho Chi Minh City which provides the specialties from Ba Diem, a garden in the noisy and beautiful urban area, is a unique cultural feature beautifying the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people.

VGP

MORE NEWS

Boeing accelerates cooperation with Vietnamese suppliers

Boeing, the world’s leading aerospace company based in the US, are accelerating cooperation with Vietnamese suppliers and universities to provide a foundation for long-term industrial growth.

Expecting coffee exports to hit a record $4 billion

Vietnam Coffee Cocoa Association (Vicofa) forecasted that if the export price of coffee remained at a high level, as in the first half of the year

Major investors worry as stock market weakens

The stock market boards have been covered with red amid investors’ rising caution. There are few buyers, while selling pressure still exists. Foreign investors’ behavior has affected the market.

Vietnam sees great potential in ASEAN halal market

Despite opportunities available in the ASEAN halal food market, Vietnamese exporters have to date exported only a small amount of halal products to some countries in the region.

Vietnam is becoming a beacon in the region: The Brussels Times

The Brussels Times of Belgium has run an article highlighting that Vietnam is becoming a beacon in the region with the capacity to control inflation and maintain economic growth at a high level despite turbulent international affairs.

Students' mindset about memorizing, copying texts stifles writing skills and creativity

A foreign professor who teaches at an international-standard university in Vietnam recently said he was disappointed about students’ semester-end exam papers.

At least six bodies found drifting off Phu Quoc seaside

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Le Minh Chanh, Deputy Head of the Police Division of Phu Quoc City has just informed that the functional forces and residents have detected six bodies drifting off the seaside under a severe decomposition situation.

Police forces break down nearly 200-kilogram gold smuggling ring

The police have broken up a huge gold smuggling ring from Cambodia to Vietnam, said Lieutenant General To An Xo, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam.

Vietnam's CPI rises over 3% in Q3

Vietnam’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the third quarter of this year inched up 3.32% against the same period last year, according to data released by the General Statistics Office (GSO) on September 29.

Vietnam enjoys trade surplus of 6.52 bln USD in Jan-Sep

Vietnam estimates a trade surplus of 6.52 billion USD in the first nine months of this year.

Vietnamese, Cuban PMs discuss measures to boost cooperation

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his Cuban counterpart Manuel Marrero Cruz held talks following the official welcome ceremony in Hanoi on September 29 for the Cuban Government leader, who is paying an official visit from September 28-October 2.

Foreign service providers fulfill tax obligations in Vietnam

Since the portal for tax payment of cross border activities was launched on March 21 this year, 36 foreign service providers have registered, declared and paid taxes through it, heard a webinar held by the Government Portal on September 29.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son pays official visit to Austria

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son paid an official visit to Austria on September 28 and 29, which is an important event when the two countries are marking the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties (1972-2022).

40 deaths by rabies in Vietnam this year

As many as 40 people in Vietnam have been killed by rabies since the start of this year.

More businesses need to use AI

AI is not a luxury. It can be applied on a large scale in many fields.
back_to_top