ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Custom of Chewing Betel in Vietnam

Updated on October 31, 2012

Chewing betel is one of the oldest custom of Vietnam. Chinese historical documents state that in the time of Eastern Han Dynasty (about the 1st century AD), chewing betel and betel nut was already very popular in An Nam (Vietnam nowadays). Vietnamese records maintain that since Au Lac time (about the 3rd century BC), betel vines and betel nut trees presented in every family garden. A piece of betel nut wrapped in betel leaf with a dash of lime is believed to prevent and cure bad breath, tooth decays and some tropical diseases. It is also the symbol of friendly and solid social relations in Vietnamese culture.

The legend of betel

The symbolic quality of betel, betel nut and lime comes from a tragic legend believed to dated from the Hung Kings' era (the Bronze Age). A twin brothers became estranged after the elder got married. Then came a serious misunderstanding resulting in the younger leaving the house. The elder was remorseful and went to look for his brother without telling his wife. The distressed wife also set out finding her husband. They couldn't meet each other but all fell dead on the same spot. At the place of their death appeared a limestone, a betel vine and a betel nut tree. When people chew betel leaf, betel nut with a little lime, they feel slightly intoxicated and the mixture becomes red as blood, which is interpreted that the bond between the siblings and the couple lives on beyond death.

Betel in Vietnamese culture

The betel consisting of betel leaf, betel nut, lime and sometimes bark of atocorpus is an essential part of traditional Vietnamese life. It is indispensable when making offerings to the genies or the ancestors. Guests are welcomed with betel and tea before conversation to help them feel at home. In social gatherings, betel is offered to the attendants to warm up the atmosphere. When one offers a person betel, one expresses the wish to be friend with that person and the receiver has the moral debt to reciprocate that. This is especially meaningful in relations between young people of opposite sexes and girls are warned not to accept betel from those they don't know well. Above all, betel represents the unbreakable bond of marriage. To ask for a girl's hand, a man has to present her family with betel leaves and a whole bunch of betel nuts to show that he is serious about the marriage, which was even an official law in the Le Dynasty (the 15th century). In folk songs, betel is the allusion of passionate and sincere love.

Nowadays, only old people living in the countryside still chew betel. There are fewer and fewer people can live on growing betel and betel nut. However, betel is still a part of traditional ceremonies, especially weddings.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)