An Age-old Vietnamese Custom – Betel and Areca Culture of Southern Regions

Post by: Admin - Posted at: November 14, 2018

Have you ever known betel and areca are used to start talking and help people become closer and more open with each other in Vietnamese custom ?
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn
In the past, age-old people in Vietnam also liked to chew betel leaves and areca nuts but now this habit is not much popular. Nowadays, betel leaves and areca nuts became a necessary part of present that a bridegroom’s family bring to the bride’s family in their wedding. They contain best wishes of people to the married couple.
chewing betel and areca nuts - whereis.vn
Chewing betel and areca nuts culture in Vietnam

History of chewing betel and areca nuts

In Vietnam, the custom of chewing betel and areca nuts originated from the era of the Hung Kings (approximately between 2897 BC and 1550 BC) and has spread all over the country. People called the tree “Cau” (areca palm) and the plant “Trau” (betel) It is associated with the “Legend of Betel and Areca” about the faithfulness of a wife for her husband and the love between two siblings.
chewing betel and areca nuts - whereis.vn
Areca palm
In the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people, chewing betel and areca nuts is not only a habit, a custom but also an element of the traditional cultural values. Chewing betel used to be a very popular practice among people in all walks of life, from ordinary people to royalty and has become a beautiful characteristic of Vietnam’s traditional culture
Areca nut and betel leaf - whereis.vn
Areca nut and betel leaf
Betel and areca are used to start talking and help people become closer and more open with each other. Betel and areca are indispensable offering in traditional Vietnamese ceremonies such as the engagement and wedding as well as during conversations, funerals and burials. A quid of betel and areca nut makes people feel warm on cold winters days and relieves sadness. They are a symbol of love, brotherhood, family and happiness.
Betel and areca are indispensable offering in traditional Vietnamese ceremonies, festivals

Eternal fragrance and beauty

The custom of chewing betel in Vietnam is mainly reflected in the betel kits. A betel quid consists of four materials: a wedge of areca nut which has a sweet taste, a betel leaf that offers a spicy taste, a piece of bark of a special tree which gives a bitter taste, and a little lime paste offering a hot taste. All of them are chewed together, providing a delicious taste with red juice and freshness. The tall areca tree symbolizes heaven (Yang). The lime symbolizes earth (Yin)
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn
A quid of betel and areca
A betel kit includes a knife for splitting the areca nuts and shaping the betel leaves, a pot of lime, a tube of Vietnamese people’s betel chewing custom and its existence in today’s modern society
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn
Making a quid of betel and areca is also one of the beauty in Betel and Areca custom in Vietnam
The custom of chewing betel is popular throughout Southeast Asia and the making of the betel leaves and areca wedges into beautiful shapes as well as the betel-inviting practice have become a form of artistic activities full of national identities. A quid of betel with “Phonix wings” is one of the popular shapes of Vietnamese made by skillful hands.

 A quid of betel with "Phonix wings" is one of the popular shapes of Vietnamese
A quid of betel with “Phonix wings” is one of the popular shapes of Vietnamese
Chewing a quid of betel ( “Trau” ), you can feel the sweet taste of an areca leaf , the hot taste of betel bark, the bitter taste of a chay root, and pungent taste of hydrated lime. But it’s hard for foreigners to like this flavor in the first time.

Benefits of betel and areca

Depending on the hobby, it is possible to combine betel leaves with cinnamon bark and waterpipe tobacco. This perfect combination brings a special flavor: the sweetness of the areca; spicy and the aroma of essential oil from betel nuts; acrid of the seeds and shell … This blend makes the human body warm and the slight feeling of enamel created from the arécoline in the areca nuts
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Besides it’s good for health, chewing betel also has some effects in beauty. The Polyphenols contained in the betel leaves has antimicrobial activity, the arécoline in the areca nuts is neutralized by lime, which gives the betel nut a bright red color that helps the lips, pink cheeks and glittering eyes, help people to increase energy. The women with “rosy cheeks, red lips” by eating betel plus teeth black teeth (Vietnamese dyeing one’s teeth black custom ). When smiling has become a criterion for determining the “beauty” of women in traditional society.

How to make a betel and areca nut chew and use it?

To make your own betel nut mixture, take an amount of betel nut ( about 1/4 nut is good) and break it into small pieces or powder. The pieces will be chewed, so you can break them up into any size you want. Then, wrap it and place the betel in the side of your mouth between the cheek and jaw, and chew it once in a while. Let the mixture remain in your mouth for an hour or longer, and DON’T swallow any saliva your mouth produces.

chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn

Try not to swallow much betel nut directly, it can cause an upset stomach. When finished, spit out the remaining mixture, rather than swallow it.

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Note: When chewed, the stimulant effect can be felt almost immediately and it lasts for three to five hours.

Chewing betel in modern society and where to buy it?

It is a custom among the majority Kinh group, and also among other ethnic groups, such as the Tay, Nung, Dao, Thai, Muong and San Diu in the northern areas, the Khmer in southern areas, Bru, Edu and Cham and the Central Highlands. Though today’s young people are not much interested in betel chewing, many old people in Vietnam still retain it as a beautiful custom.
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn
There aren’t any streets or markets which specialize in selling betel and areca nuts. Today only vendors from Hung Yen province or from outlying districts of Hanoi still offer the products. Thanh Tram has sold betel and areca nuts at Hang Be market in downtown Hanoi for more than 20 years.
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn
If you wanna buy betel and areca nuts in Ho Chi Minh city, you can visit Le Quang Sung St, District 6 – the only betel and areca street remaning in Saigon. In the South, 18 betel garden villages were established in the beginning of the 17th century, associated with the time of reclaiming land to build the villages. They specialised in growing betel to provide for the six southern provinces. All of these villages help to create a unique cultural feature beautifying the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people.
chewing betel and areca nuts in Vietnam - whereis.vn

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Post by: Admin - Posted at: November 14, 2018

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