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In Vietnam, men seek way to lovers’ heart through stomach on Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 14, 2019, 11:17 GMT+7
In Vietnam, men seek way to lovers’ heart through stomach on Valentine’s Day
A bouquet-shaped cake is on sale at a bakery in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

As it is said that the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach, some Vietnamese guys want to make sure their Valentine’s Day gifts will win both the heart and stomach of their girls on the day of love.

Valentine’s Day is when couples express their love for each other with a gift. But there is an unspoken law in Vietnam, where men often give the women they love gifts such as roses and chocolates on this special occasion.

But who said only chocolates or roses should be given during Valentine’s Day?

For certain Vietnamese men, Valentine’s Day is also an occasion to express their sense of humor, rather than solely love, so they would give their girlfriends delicacies Vietnamese people usually enjoy during their celebrations of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival as ‘gifts of love.’

The idea apparently stemmed from the fact that the day of love falls less than a week after the Tet break ended in the Southeast Asian country on Sunday.

A photo of a heart-shaped banh chung as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.
A photo of a heart-shaped banh chung as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.

One of the proponents of this new trend is Nguyen Thanh Binh, 25, who planned a Valentine’s Day surprise without roses or chocolates for his girl, whom he has been dating for five months.

“I planned to gift my lover a heart-shaped banh chung,” Binh told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday, referring to square glutinous rice cakes, a Tet specialty favored by northern Vietnamese.

“I bought a banh chung and cut it into a heart-like shape,” he added.

A photo of a heart-shaped banh tet (Vietnamese traditional cylinder glutinous rice cakes for Tet) as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.
A photo of a heart-shaped banh tet (Vietnamese traditional cylinder glutinous rice cakes for Tet) as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.

Pictures of different heart-shaped banh chung were shared on Facebook on Wednesday, indicating that Binh was not alone in giving such a Valentine’s Day gift.

Some, like a Facebook user named Chinh Nguyen, even pushed the humor a bit further by suggesting that a ‘gift combo’ for the day should be “banh chung, sausages and chrysanthemum.”

And as Tet delicacies also include boiled chicken and jellied pork, these foods just add to the list of jocular presents for Valentine’s Day.

“Besides chocolates, I will also give my lover jellied pork as my family has a pot of this food that hasn’t been touched since Tet,” reads a playful comment by Facebook user Nguyen Quang Minh.

From the recipient’s perspective, some Vietnamese girls think that it would be fun to get these edible gifts.

“It’s better to be presented with banh chung than to spend the day without receiving anything from anyone,” Vu Loan jokingly commented under a Facebook post.

A photo of a heart-shaped banh tet (Vietnamese traditional cylinder glutinous rice cakes for Tet) as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.
A photo of a heart-shaped banh tet (Vietnamese traditional cylinder glutinous rice cakes for Tet) as a gift for Valentine’s Day is widely shared on social networks.

However, not everyone finds the idea amusing as those Facebook photos of the banh chung and other bizarre Valentine’s Day gifts did receive negative reactions.

“How can a man gift his girlfriend a banh chung, a Tet ‘leftover’?” female Facebook user Mai England commented.

Other Internet users advised that boys had better consider the personalities of their girls before giving these ‘weird’ presents.

“It will be okay with someone who also love to joke, while those who are fastidious and strict are likely to think that the givers are mean and not serious, which may easily lead to break-up,” a twenty-something man named Nguyen Tien Anh said.

Anh added that he also prepared a pair of banh chung to gift his girlfriend.

“I do that just to make her laugh because she has the same sense of humor as mine,” Anh said, adding that he still prepared chocolates and roses to surprise his girlfriend later.

A bouquet-shaped cake is on sale at a bakery in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre
A bouquet-shaped cake is on sale at a bakery in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

Those who love to give edible Valentine’s Day gifts can also buy them, as the market this year is full of presents of this type for the day of love.

For instance, bouquet-shaped cakes priced between VND660,000 (US$28) and VND750,000 ($32) are among the best-sellers, with bakeries having had to stop taking orders from Wednesday afternoon, one day before Valentine’s Day.

“Customers who come [on the right day] may not be able to buy Valentine's Day cakes because we will stop making new products [on Wednesday night],” said a bakery representative in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.

Some other bakeries, which did not produce Valentine’s Day cakes as their employees had yet to return to work after Tet, had to add patterns and designs of hearts and roses on ordinary cakes as a temporary solution to maintain sales during the occasion.

In addition to cakes, traditional Valentine’s Day gifts such as flowers and chocolate-covered fruits also attract many customers.

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