Planting rice before Tet
“Ask him (husband) to help plant rice?! He will step on all the rice!!!”
Rice planting season in the countryside of Hoi An, Vietnam. Just before the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) there was a flurry of activity to get all of the rice fields planted before they took time off. We met Sáu working hard to get her rice planted and talked with her and her friends for a while, working as the sun went down.
Trinh: Have you prepared anything for Tet?
Sáu: No Tet. Nothing at all. Tet is for young people.
Trinh: You should do at least a little something for yourself, for Tet. For example, going to the beauty salon. (In Vietnam it is customary to look your best for Tet.)
Sáu: I cannot do it. Because today I am still working, and tomorrow I will still bending here in the water, planting the rice. Today the other women have their nails painted already. But we are still working on the rice field! My nails get painted brown by working!
Trinh: Where is your husband? Why don’t you ask him to come here for help?
Sáu: I asked my friends over there for help. They are helping to plant the rice. My husband is at home. He is a construction builder. He is off from work for Tet already. Ask him to plant rice?! He will step on all the rice!!!
Planting and harvesting rice is typically a cooperative effort in which the farmers will solicit help from friends. They will in turn return the help in their friend’s rice fields.
Sáu and friends planting rice seedlings as the sun goes down in the countryside of Hoi An, Vietnam.