A happy family when they receive meaningful calligraphy at the beginning of the year
Asking for the letter at the beginning of the year from ong do (a calligraphy master) does not only reflect the traditional cultural beauty of the nation at the beginning of the new year but also the Vietnamese people's desire for prosperity, health and peace.
It is not clear when this tradition was ingrained in the Vietnamese’s subconscious and became a pure Vietnamese beauty when spring comes. In order to promote and preserve that fine cultural tradition for many years, and at the beginning of this Lunar New Year 2023, Quang Dien district continues to maintain the activity of seeking and giving calligraphy at the beginning of the year.
For Vietnamese people, spring day is the beginning day of the new year, and also the beginning of everything new. Therefore, each person wishes for himself and his family to have good luck and prosperity in the new year. The custom of seeking and giving calligraphy probably originated from those who are studious and appreciate beautiful words. So, on spring days, asking for calligraphy is to bring good fortune and good luck home.
Later, this fine custom became more and more popular. The calligraphy word expresses the wish of the writer or the wish of the seeker, usually for peace, luck, success, and children.
According to Mr. Nguyen Van Dinh - Deputy Director of the Center for Culture, Information and Sports of Quang Dien district, starting in 2021, the district restored the beauty of seeking and giving calligraphy. After 3 years of implementation, it has achieved more success than expected. The calligraphers are teachers who are knowledgeable in Chinese and Vietnamese demotic characters. The calligraphers in the district have actively participated, and the number of seekers has been high. This is a very important premise.
“Giving calligraphy on spring days is a beautiful practice. Each calligraphy letter is not worth much money, but it is a belief and morality. We are the ones who sow happiness, bringing happiness to every home when spring comes," Mr. Nguyen Van Dinh shared.
Unlike every year, to welcome the Lunar New Year 2023, the weather is warm and is very convenient for spring activities to welcome the New Year, so the number of people coming to ask for calligraphy at the Cultural Center has increased. This year's calligraphy theme is "Duc - Tai" (Virtue – Talent), so the Organizing Committee has carried out activities with cultural depth.
The spacious, open-plan library is the place where the calligrapher interacts with visitors
To make the practice more impressive, the organizers have expanded the form beyond the couplets. Some people only asked for one or two words that they find captivating. If you ask for one word this year, then next year, you will ask for another word, such as: Mind, wisdom, fortune, talent, patience, calm, peace, or happiness. The words, verses, proverbs ... are expressed in the form of calligraphy, so they are also winding, elegant and gentle.
Under the talented and liberal brush of the calligrapher, also known as ‘Thay do”, those inherently rustic words become more soulful. The activity of asking for calligraphy in the year of the Cat 2023 of Quang Dien district, held from the 2nd day of the Lunar New Year, attracted a lot of people to ask for calligraphy.
As a teacher and calligrapher who has a long history of writing calligraphy on Tet holiday in Quang Dien, Mr. Hoang Xuan Thien said that the cultural beauty of seeking calligraphy in the past few years has become an indispensable activity in the spiritual life of Quang Dien people.
“With each calligraphy given, the recipient wishes to receive fortune, luck, health, peace and happiness in the new year. Through the word, one hopes to enjoy the blessings and talents of the person who gives the letter. The people who give letters give their feelings and wishes to keep forever the beauty of old customs and traditions in modern life, and the desire to reach for “truth - goodness – beauty” calligrapher Hoang Xuan Thien shared.
Preservation and promotion
The young couple was delighted with the newly given calligraphy
Like every year, the space for asking and giving calligraphy of Quang Dien district is arranged at the Culture House of the district, where everyone comes to celebrate the spring festival in general and asks for calligraphy in particular.
On the background of red and pink paper - the colors symbolizing luck and good fortune, hundreds of calligraphies with wishes for health, family peace and happiness... were given. The calligraphers were meticulously holding their brushes when giving words. They did not write in a hurry or carelessly. At times, they took a lot of time explaining to guests the meaning of each word given.
Over time, the custom of seeking calligraphy on spring days has faded, but in the past 3 years, the restoration and organization of the activity "Seeking calligraphy on the first spring days" have made it an event for spring tourists to participate in. Many linger by the mats of the calligraphers, asking for words of good wishes for themselves and their families or to give their loved ones and friends on the first day of the new spring.
On the spring day, joining the flow of people traveling and pilgrimaging, everyone who comes to the district gymnasium will meet again the familiar image of the calligraphers with ao dai and head turbans being surrounded by calligraphy lovers of all ages. Along with the joy and excitement on that spring travel road, after visiting here, each person also brings back for themselves, their family, relatives, and friends... the words that carry the meaning of joy, happiness, luck and peace.
Story and photos: THAI BINH - CONG CUONG