Clay cracker, a traditional game that involves hurling clay crackers to produce noise, originated in Vietnam’s northern delta region.
Clay cracker festival is organized in the spring to entertain locals and pray for a bumper crop.
When the Lunar New Year comes, 7 communes in Hai Duong province start practicing for the clay cracker contest and odd sounds echo throughout the village.
People living and working far from home now return for the annual festival.
Pham Van Phuc, a native of Quyet Thang commune, Ninh Giang district, said, “From the first to the third lunar month, a clay cracker festival is held almost every day. There are contests between hamlets, communes, districts, and provinces. The farmers immerse themselves in the festival’s cheerful ambience and pray for a new year of luck and happiness.”
The clay cracker game is believed to have first appeared in Hai Ba Trung era in the first century.
In wartime, Vietnamese used the noise of the crackers as a diversionary tactic and in peacetime as entertainment. Hurling clay crackers requires fitness and strength.
Nguyen Van Chinh in Ninh Hoa commune, Ninh Giang district said, “I began playing clay cracker when I was 15 years old. Strong male villagers were chosen to form a team to compete for the title. The contest is fun.”
The clay is kneaded to make it elastic and soft. The skill in hurling the cracker is very important. A cracker whose edge bursts the longest is the winner.
40-year-old Nguyen Xuan Truong, a member of Quang Khai commune’s clay cracker team in Tu Ky district, said when hurling the cracker, a player should stand with his feet shoulder width apart and his arms close to his body, gather force in his knees, and use the force of his arms to throw the clay.
He said, “The most difficult part is hurling the clay. If you hurl well, the cracker’s noise is loud. The longer the cracker’s edge is torn apart, the louder the noise is. A clay cracker can last 10 years. We wrap the cracker with a nylon sheet and keep it in a cool place.”
The prize for the winner is just a pennant and a small amount of cash. But the festival attracts a lot of revelers, reminding people of the good old days and promoting communal solidarity.
This is one of the reasons the clay cracker game is still around.
Do Manh Thang, Chairman of Ninh Hoa Commune’s People’s Committee, Hai Duong province, said, “The festival is held annually in our commune and receives a warn response from local men and women, young and old alike. We teach people the importance of clay cracker as a healthy, traditional game.”
Hai Duong province includes a clay cracker contest in its famous Spring Conson-Kiep Bac Festival to promote the local cultural tradition and tourism. VOV