Learn A Word: đám giỗ

In my last post, I mentioned I was going to my uncle-in-law’s dam gio. So what is it exactly? In English, it would be called a Death Anniversary. When someone passes away, someone important to them will host a a dam gio. It can be just one main person or multiple people, but at least one person should do it.

For my uncle-in-law, he passed away a year ago, so my aunt hosted one. Most likely, my uncle’s mom would host one as well in her own home ( she lives in Canada). Usually, we keep it within the family. However, friends can show up for emotional support.

In the U.S., people remember their loved ones too. Every year, it gets closer to their death date and you remember the person in any manner. You may go visit his tomb in the cemetery. For Vietnamese people, we do that too, but we also host an elaborate meal for our loved ones’ spirit.

Afterwards, you light three incense, and talk to them in your head. Once you pray, you stick the incense in a pot of rice. The incense shivers, a sign the spirit is visiting the dinner table. You eat lunch once he finishes “eating.”

That’s how you do it. Eventually, I will have to do it for my parents, since I am the oldest. However, these traditions aren’t a burden. You commemorate the people in your life, and prolong their time on Earth. The spirits protect you, guide you and grant your wishes, because they love you back.

What a great way to celebrate someone’s life. Yes, the feelings may still be raw and you may not be ready to let go, but they are always closer than you think.


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