No one remembers when bánh tét became a traditional dish of Southern Vietnam. Today, however, that doesn’t seem to matter. Making bánh tét has become a traditional activity that a Southerner cannot bare to miss during Tet holiday.
The difference between bánh chưng and bánh tét
Bánh tét is a variation of bánh chưng, it represents good-natured Southern Vietnamese who live a simple life, in contrast with the sophisticated lives of Northern folk. That’s why bánh tét tastes hardier, and is, in fact, easier to make.
It’s “tube” shape is in order to match the Southern weather which is hotter than that of the North. If it maintained a square shape like bánh chưng, the cake would be moldy at its corners. Fortunately, the moldy aspects of bánh tét are easily discarded.
The purpose of the Tet’s bánh tét
Bánh tét has a meaningful purpose in our lives. A lot of layers of leaves cover the cake, representing a mother protecting her child, and reminding people of their own mother, their life with her, the love existing between the two individuals. What’s more, the colors of the cakes remind Vietnamese people of the peaceful green countryside, igniting the wish for a sustainable and vivacious life for everyone. In aggregate, the meaning praises our labor, harmony with nature, and respect to our ancestors.
The simple cake is the symbol of how Southerners go about daily life. In the lunar new year’s eve, ones’ entire family stays up all night to cook bánh tét; the children are in charge of lighting the fire for its impending creation, allowing for a warm, comfortable atmosphere for the family during the Tet reunion.