Mythology is coeval with humankind. As far back, that is to say, as we have been able to follow the broken, scattered, the earliest evidence of the emergence of our species, signs have been found which show that mythological aims and concerns were already shaping the arts and the world of Homo sapiens" (Campbell & Bill, 2000). In the history of humankind, every culture has its own mythical story to explain the origin of its people and events. They left mythical elements and fictional images to explain the history of their culture. The mythical stories have been handed down from generation to generation and teach people to do the right things and avoid doing the wrong things. Although there are many myths in Vietnam, one of the most important myths is the myth of the earthen cooking stove, The Kitchen Gods. The myth explains the origin of the Vietnamese three-leg kitchen, Vietnamese cultural tradition and the influence of the myth to Vietnamese lives
Once upon a time, a poor couple who lived in a small cottage found it hard to earn a living. They felt very sad and used to quarrel anytime. The husband could do nothing but drink too much. One day, he beat his wife. The wife could no longer endure such an abusive manner, so she fled the cottage without coming back. For days and weeks, the woman wandered in the forest. She was hungry, and her feet were torn and bleeding. Finally, she came to a hunter's cabin. The owner was an honest man, who gave her food and permitted her to rest in his home. She kept house for him then, and after some time, they get married. They lived together in great happiness, and it seemed that the woman had forgotten the terrors of her previous marriage. One day, the twenty-third day of December of the lunar year, the new husband went hunting. While living alone at home, the wife saw a beggar who asked for help, and she recognised that the beggar was her former husband. She gave him food and tended to him with great care. Suddenly, the new husband came home with some hunting game. She quickly hid her former husband in a haystack. At the same time, the new husband threw the game into the haystack to have it roasted. He did not know there was someone in the haystack. The former husband did not dare to get out of the haystack, and he died. Seeing her former husband get burned, the wife threw herself into the fire to die with him. When the new husband saw his wife jump into the fire, he quickly jumped into the fire to rescue her, but it was too late for him, and he also burned to death.
Ngoc Hoang, the Jade Emperor, who knew the heart-rending story, honored the three of them by designating the three as Kitchen Gods. He also told them that at the end of the lunar year, on the twenty-third day of the twelfth month, they depart to Heaven to inform Ngoc Hoang, the Jade Emperor, of their owner's affairs during the year. People showed respect to the three Kitchen Gods by making earthen stoves to cook food daily (Adams, 9-30). These stoves were stronger and designed for three people.
The myth of the Kitchen Gods is a Vietnamese tradition that has been deeply attached to Vietnamese people. Every year, the Vietnamese remember that day, and they celebrate the farewell party to temporarily say goodbye to the three Kitchen Gods who will ride to Heaven to report the good and the bad of every household to the Supreme God. On that day, Vietnamese people also burn a lot of votive papers that resemble golden hats, shoes and long dresses to offer the three Kitchen Gods. It is said that if any family has done the good things in the past year, they will get the best luck from the Supreme God. No Vietnamese forgets on the twenty-third of December every year. They usually put rice paper, pork, sugar dessert or rock sugar around the kitchen on December 23'd of the last month of the lunar calendar to celebrate the day of the Kitchen Gods.
The emblem and creation of the myth improve people's life significantly. Before the cooking stove was seen, most people found it hard to cook food, and they drank lots of polluted water that could cause people illness or death. When the cooking stove was created, people felt safer because of less disease and less illness (Loar N.p). Also, people felt convenient to cook food and boil water, and then they enjoyed a better life. In the past, many people in tribes who lived in remote areas kept warm in the winter by sitting close to the cooking stove with the fire. They always kept their wood stove burning because they believed that the fire of the stove could bring warmth and happiness to the family. It is also the Vietnamese tradition that everybody in a happy family sits together waiting for the warm meal. When the fire of the cooking stove is burning, all family members can share their love, support, and care for each other.
Nowadays, people rely on a gas cooker or electric cooker to make food and boil water to improve their life. Although the gas cooker or electric cooker mainly helps people become healthy, happy, and wealthy, it is far less spiritual and legendary than the small earthen cooking stove. Those who believe in the story of the Kitchen Gods would do the right thing and avoid a wicked deed that can cause damage to their life. People dare not to do the wrong things, fearing that the Kitchen Gods will report everything to the Supreme God. As a result, a lot of unpredictable mishaps will come to them unexpectedly if they do the wrong things. The myth helps people not to be involved in nefarious activities and helps them choose the right way to follow, or they will be punished by the Supreme God or by society's rule. Vietnamese people, especially those who live in the countryside, believe that the prosperity or decadence of the family can result from the Kitchen Gods' pleasure or anger. Therefore, they try to keep it as clean as possible. The Vietnamese are embedded in the tradition of bringing the Kitchen Gods into their new homes before they officially move in because they believe that the blessing of the Kitchen Gods is important for the family to stay healthy, happy, and prosperous. In Fengshui study, people receive the best luck when they lay the cooking stove in the right place. Otherwise, they have an illness and bad luck. In general, the emblem of the myth deeply influences people's lives as well as improves the quality of their lives.
In conclusion, the myth of the cooking stove is necessary for people. It occurs daily in people's lives and cannot be detached. It is an important cultural tradition that helps people improves their quality of life. Every day, the myth of the cooking stove brings happiness, wellness, and wealth to people. Nowadays, although people enjoy a better life with the new invention of technology, the myth of the cooking stove will never be forgotten. Vietnamese parents who live in foreign countries need to teach the traditional myth of the cooking stove to their children, or the children will not know how religious, legendary and important the myth is.
Adams, Bella. "Representing History in Amy Tan's" The Kitchen God's Wife"." Melus 28.2 (2003): 9-30.
Campbell, J. and Bill M. "The Power of Myth." (2000). Retrieved from https://www.nateliason.com/notes/power-myth-joseph-campbell
Loar, Christel. "The Meaning Of Life: 'Joseph Campbell On The Power Of Myth With Bill Moyers'." PopMatters. N.p., 2010. Retrieved from https://www.popmatters.com/132546-joseph-campbell-on-the-power-of-myth-with-bill-moyers-2496120081.html.
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Essay Example on Myths: Ancient Tales of Human Origins, Culture and History. (2022, Dec 29). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/essay-example-on-myths-ancient-tales-of-human-origins-culture-and-history
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