Friday, January 2, 2009

Nam Chuc Phan Tram

The day after we arrived in Ninh Hoa, Anne's Great Uncle had a mourning ceremony for Anne's Great-grandmother. Unlike back in the states where we celebrate birthdays, in Vietnam people celebrate the day of a loved one's passing. Honoring of when family member hopefully has reached a state of Nirvana and contentment. A celebratory table of all their favorite foods are set out and a special prayer is made at the prayer alter, which is in every home and sometimes homes may have a whole room with a prayer alter dedicated to family members who have passed (it is very sweet because your family is ALWAYS with you, even when they have died).
Afterwards special commemorative money is burned.
And the whole family feasts on the prayer meal.
And then the men sit and drink and snack for the rest of the day, and we mean DRINK
And then comes the karaoke.
The beer of choice in Ninh Hoa is 333, which is made from rice and is fairly light, but we soon found out heavy in alcohol content.
We made the mistake of telling Uncle Cau Bay that the beer was really light and that it would take about 20 to get drunk. Well after a few shots of rice wine, it only really took a lot less than 20 and it took Mike 15 hours to sleep it off.The day before we left one of Anne's cousins had an engagement party/announcement. In Vietnam when a man wants to marry a woman his whole family goes over to the bride-to-be's house and formally asks her family for their permission to have her join their family. It is a really touching ceremony because the whole family is involved.Formal offerings are made to the bride's family the and union of the two families is made with a final toast.The bride and groom then exchange rings and are seen as married within the two families and are then invited to call each other's parents Dad and Mom.
Then of course, as with all things Vietnamese, there is a feast.
And more drinking. But this time no Nam Chuc Phan Tram (or chug-a-lug) for us, just good times with a crazy group of uncles. The ceremony started at 8 and by 10 we were a little tipsy and yet again the karaoke came out. 

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