Once Upon A Time
Folkway

Your bà mối or matchmaker is:(a) Mom’s best friend.(b) Your best friend (who may turn out to be the one).(c) Algorithms purported to know you best.(d) Your best self, after you learn to trust your instinct and check your impulses.

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The Crane and the Turtle
Tales

Thousand-year-old is an exaggeration. The turtle emerged only to bellow at the cranes as they sloshed in ahead of the rains, and no creature along this reach of the river could claim more than eight or ten sightings. “KEEP OFF MY PRAWNS!” The turtle was roundly ignored. But one day, a young crane stepped away…

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A Cup of Wine
Folkway

There was no đón dâu (fetching of the bride), no thách cưới (gifts stipulated by the bride’s family). No mother-in-law had to leave for a neighbor’s house, bình vôi (lime pot) in hand, to signal her willingness to cede the matriarchal reins. The brides walked in side by side, hands clasped, as tall as the…

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Alteration
Design

Bà Nội believed that a second-hand garment is imbued with the previous owner’s vía – the sum total of their hopes and fears. Before wearing the garment, you must alter it in some way. The alteration can be a button tucked inside the hem or a bit of embroidery under the neckline. No need to…

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About Love
Language

yêu: love you dream of; thương: love you give; tình: love you fall into; nghĩa: love you are grateful for

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Cây Nêu
Folkway

Cây nêu is made of a long bamboo stem with one leafy branch at its tip. Attached to the branch is a ring big enough to hold a number of charms against evil spirits – pandan leaves, cacti, chimes…

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Tết Nguyên Đán
Folkway

Tết Nguyên Đán (“festival of the first dawn”) celebrates the beginning of the year based on a lunisolar calendar. It is so central to Viet culture that people refer to it simply as Tết.

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Ngũ Quả
Folkway

The five fruits in Ngũ Quả represent blessings to wish for during Tết and other special occasions: Wealth (phú); stature (quý); longevity (thọ); health (khang); peace (ninh).

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