Son La, a mountainous province in northern Vietnam, inhabited by 12 ethnic groups, including the White Thai. White Thai people, originally distinguished from other Thai peoples by the colour of their clothes, owns their unique customs. Xip Xi is one of the most major day for the White Thai to celebrate and practice their culture.
New clothes are must-not-forget gifts
“Xip xi” in Thai means 14 and the festival is infact held on 14th the seventh lunar month, usually in August. This time is at about the end of harvest season and plowing work for the new crop has been just finished so this is quite a leisure time for Thai farmers. The festival was held to review the first half of the year, and at the same time, is an opportunity for adults to show their love and special care to the younger generation. On this occasion, the children usually do not have to herd or do house chores, but instead, eat and do what they like. If the kids have to go grazing for some reasons, parents must pack wraps of meat and cakes for them to carry away. New clothes are must-not-forget gifts the adults give their children to celebrate their most special day of the year.
Duck dishes are for good luck, “it” cakes are for love
Like many other festivals in Vietnam, Xip Xi also has a religious ritual to worship the ancestors, the explorer, and creator of the villages. Offerings called “mo” is prepared depending on each family. “Mo” often includes various things from wine to sticky rice in five colours; however, ducks and “it” cakes are absolute musts.
According to the White Thai, the ducks can bring bad luck drifting downstream the river while a pair of “it” cakes with sticky rice flour packed in banana leaves is a symbol of an endless love. The festival is also an opportunity for Thai to show their hospitality and guests are considered to bring along fortunate.
An occasion to find true love
After the lunch at home, people often crowd the village centers and joined in several folk games such as “nem con”, traditional fan dancing and folk songs. As a significant part of the festival, singing folk songs is infact a special way White Thai communicate to each other. “Khap chuc muon” are songs for joyfulness, “khap son con” are for educating while “khap bao sao” are actually love songs. These activities are opportunities for the young to find their true love among the participants, not only in the village but may come from afar since in this special afternoon, other Thai peoples from nearby villages also come to share the happy moments.