If you are looking for a partner in life, then the Khau Vai Love Market may be the place to find one. Legends tells of a sad story, a romance that did not meet with parental approval. Remember traditionally, parents always had a say in a marriage; something like a birth sign was sufficient for it to be forbidden by the family. While times are changing, there is still a great deal of respect for the opinion of the family.
The legend is the origin of the Love Market that takes place on the 26/27th days of the third lunar month in Khau Vai in the Meo Vac District of Ha Giang, the most northerly of Vietnam’s Provinces. A couple from different tribes fell in love but the bride’s tribe forbade the union. The result was fighting and bloodshed. The couple felt guilty about the trouble they had caused and to avoid more bloodshed they parted, even though they loved each other. However, they resolved to meet once a year in Khau Vai on the 26th day of the third lunar month.
The result is the Market where every year others whose marriage has been refused meet just as legend has it that this unfortunate couple resolved. There is nothing for sale in this Market; it is just a date. It has been going on for about a Century now. Couples go to the Market, man and wife, to meet former friends. There is no room for jealousy on the part of either and former friends always depart to return to their normal lives.
These days it is seen as a chance to meet a partner for the first time so the Market is seen as a symbol of love and romance. If you are travelling in Vietnam, this an interesting tradition to observe.
On the 26th, there is a ceremony about the coming crops with everyone praying for a good harvest. Afterwards, everyone leaves the vicinity of the pagoda for the activities; dancing, food and drink, and traditional games. The second day is all about cooking rice and searching for happiness. The final act of the Market is washing the Buddha’s statue.
Tourists have discovered the attraction of the Northern Highlands. It is a region regularly included in Vietnam travel packages anyway. If you arrive in Hanoi, pick up your Vietnam visa on arrival, you may be able to see this Market as it happens.