The five-fruit Tray on Tet holiday

Apr 10, 2018

On Tet, the five-fruit tray (Mam ngu qua) is an integral part on every Vietnamese family’s altar during Tet. It represents the reminiscence of people to their ancestors, as well as symbolizes wishes for a happy new year.
Five-fruit tray, like its name, is a tray with 5 different fruits of different colors, displayed in a careful and artistic way. Each fruit symbolizes 1 wish for New Year of the family. What kind of fruits are included in the tray varies from one region to another due to differences in climate, fruit crops and custom.

In Northern Vietnam

Northern Vietnamese display the five-fruit tray according tofive basic elements of the Oriental philosophy: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Each element has a signature color, and people choose fruits due to this color. The fruits must be carefully selected and well organized on the tray to create the beautiful effect of blending colors.

Five-fruit tray in the North often has: banana, pomelo, peach, mandarin, and persimmon. The traditional way to display them is putting a bunch of bananas in the bottom to create a frame; putting a pomelo on top of the bananas; other fruits are organized around. Families sometimes can put more than 5 fruits onto the tray to make it more abundant like: grape, chilly, apple, etc.

In the central of Vietnam

Unlike choosey Northern people, people here don’t pay much intention on the visual of the tray. Instead, they think it is people’s sincere gratitude towards their ancestors that matters the most. That is why the five-fruit tray in the central of Vietnam usually features local fruits, and differs among families.

Most popular fruits here are: Dragon fruit, watermelon, pinapple, and orange.

In the Southern Vietnam

Southern people has a very popular wish for a wealthy New Year: “Cầu sung vừa đủ xài”. So, they use the fruits that have names consist of 5 words in that wish to display on the tray. For example: papaya-“đu đủ” (has the word “đủ” in the name) is one of the 5 chosen fruits. The other 4 are: coconut, fig, mango, and custard apple. Besides, people often display pineapples and two watermelons on the altar to wish for luck.

Although five-fruit tray’s preparation varied among regions, the utter meaning of showing gratitude to ancestors stays consistent throughout the country. It is a beautiful cultural feature of the Vietnamese people.