The Legend of the Betel Leaves and the Areca Nuts

Bài thuyết minh du lịch tiếng Anh: Trầu cau

The Legend of the Betel Leaves and the Areca Nuts

According to the culture of Vietnam, during festivals or party times, Vietnamese serve betel leaves and areca nuts for chewing as a start of conversation. In fact, betel leaves and areca nuts are symbolic of love and marriage and are a must during an engagement. How did this customs come about is quite interesting.
There were two twin brothers of the Cao family. Their names were Tan for the eldest brother, and Lang for the youngest one. They got schooling with a Taoist named Chu Chu who lived with his eighteen-year old daughter. He then married her to Tân, and the young couple lived their conjugal life happily. But, Lang found out that his brother treated him less intimately since he got married. In fact, Lang left the house wandering around the country. He reached a larger river and couldn't cross it. Not even a small boat was in the vicinity to transport him to the other side of the river. He was so sad that he kept on weeping till death and was transformed into a lime-stone lying by the river side.
Troubled by the long absence of his brother, Tân went out to look for him. When he reached the riverside he sat on the lime-stone and died by exhaustion and weariness. He was transformed into an areca tree. The young woman in turn was upset by the long absence of her husband and got out for a search. She reached the same place where the areca tree had grown, leaned against the tree and died, transformed into a plant with large piquant leaves climbing on the areca tree. Hearing of this tragic love story, local inhabitants in the area set up a temple to their memory.
One day, King Hùng went by the site and gained knowledge of this story from local people. He ordered his men to take and ground together a leaf of betel, an areca nut and a piece of lime. A juice as red as human blood was squeezed out from the melange. He tasted the juice and found it delicious. Then he recommended the use of betel chewed along with areca nut and lime at every marital ceremony.
After that, people started to chew betel leaves and areca nuts with a bit of lime to redden their lisps. The three people became inseparable in people’s mind.
Betel leaves and areca nuts were also used to offer to show home owners’ honor to their guests, their friends.
Therefore, it is said that “A betel cud is the very first conversation starter”.
At weddings, betel leaves and areca nuts became a necessary part of present that a bridegroom’s family bring to the bride’s family.
They believed that betel leaves and areca nuts will bring happiness to new married couples and give them endless love to live happily together the rest of their life.
Although the habit of chewing betel leaves is not much popular, most people who keep this habit are old ones, betel leaves and areca nuts still are the most important presents which are brought to the bride’s family.
They contain best wishes of people to the married couple.

Lê Hùng Cường

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