Although originating from China, the Cold Food Festival in Vietnam has its own meaning and style. While the Chinese avoid the cooking fire and eat only cold food on March 3 by the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people cook as normal but have created TROI-CHAY cakes to celebrate the day. Chinese people use this day as a way to compensate for their mistakes in the past, but for Vietnamese people, the Cold Food Festival shows their respect for parents and ancestors. This has become a light-hearted cultural event that children especially enjoy.
Every year, the children in YWAM Mercy Vietnam’s three Homes are happy when the day comes for making TROI-CHAY cakes.
Vietnamese people have an idiom: “three sinks, seven floats” which reflects their experience when making TROI-CHAY cakes. When the raw cake balls (made of rice-flour) are dropped into a pot of boiling water, they sink to the bottom. When the cakes float to the surface for the seventh time, the cakes are done. The idiom symbolically describes the hardship of those who have nurtured us to adulthood.
The round white cakes, like jewels lying side-by-side on the plate, also remind Vietnamese of their creation myth where Mother AU gave birth to 100 eggs that hatched first 100 ancestors of the Vietnamese people. The close proximity of the cakes on the plate symbolize sharing warm love among family members.
Making and enjoying cakes together while talking and laughing create great childhood moments to remember. These happy childhood memories help the children form their basic life values such as responsibility, cooperation, unity, mutual respect, and love for each other. These values will go along with children strengthening their character for years to come.