There once were two brothers who lived in Vietnam. The older brother’s name was Tan and the younger brother’s name was Lang. They were very close. Then one day Tan decided to get married and moved away to live his life happily with his new bride. His younger brother Lang, began to distance himself from his brother and one day disappeared. He had left his home and wandered about, finally resting by a river, when he died from exhaustion and turned into a limestone rock. His brother Tan began to worry about him and went out in search of his brother. After a while, when he couldn’t find him he found a nice rock to sit on by the riverbed. He soon fell asleep and died in his sleep from weariness and turned into a tree. Not soon after, Tan’s wife began to wonder where her husband was and went to look for him. When she couldn’t find him, she leaned against the tree by the riverbed and rested her foot on the rock. Eventually she died and turned into a vine that wound around the tree. Years later, a king came and ground up a leaf from the vine, a nut from the tree, and mixed it with lime. The product was a sweet red juice that the king loved so from then on he brought that combination to all the weddings and it became a tradition to drink it between family members at every wedding ceremony.
This proverb was first heard by the informant from his mother just after the family had attended his aunt’s wedding. The informant had asked, “Why do the family bring around that tree to everyone and they have to eat it?” The informant’s mother answered that the tree represents a good marriage not only between the husband and bride but also a peaceful relationship between the two married people’s families, in order to prevent the same thing that happened to Lang, Tan and his wife.
This is a Vietnamese custom that has long been used at wedding ceremonies and receptions when the family of the groom brings the plant around the room and offering it to family members as they are being introduced. This custom has also been brought over to the United States and is still practiced at modern traditional Vietnamese weddings as well. It is passed on from generation to generation, to provide peace and healthy relationships between families.