The legend of betel and areca / Sự tích trầu cau

Once upon a time, there was a pair of twin brothers whose parents had died since they were small kids.

They loved and took good care of each other.

They looked too alike that nobody could point exactly who was the elder brother, who was the younger brother.

They liked learning very much so they came to learn with a teacher.

The teacher let them stay with his family.

The two brothers studied hard and worked hard every day.

Their teacher was very satisfied with them.

The teacher had a lovely daughter who was some years younger than the twin brothers.

She moved for them and wanted to married the elder brother.

Her parents agreed with her.

So, one day she cooked rice and invited the twin to eat.

However, there was only a bowl of rice and a pair of chopsticks on the table when the twin brothers came.

According to our traditional custom, the younger brother offered his brother to eat first.

The teacher came in and told them he would marry off his daughter to the elder.

A happy wedding was held.

After that, the new married couple lived happily in a small house with the younger brother.

One day, the two brothers worked hard outside and came home in late afternoon.

The young wife was longing to her husband so she hugged him tight.

However, the woman did not realize that the younger brother arrived first on that day.

Thus, the young wife showed her affection to her brother-in-law instead of her husband.

The younger brother landed in an embarrassing situation and did not know how to do while his brother came in.

Of course the elder brother was not happy to see that.

Realizing her mistake, the wife felt so sorry.

The husband did not say anything but the atmosphere in their family was not as warm as last time.

The younger brother was so sad.

He thought that was his fault.

Therefore, he left home silently and went far away.

He kept going day by day.

When he came to a river, he stopped there and cried for himself.

He died and transformed into a limestone.

About the elder brother, when he did not see his brother at home, he was very worried about him.

He was so sorry for making his beloved brother sad.

He hoped his brother would come back when he was comfortable but younger brother still did not come back.

The elder brother left home to look for his brother.

He looked for him for many days.

Finally, he came to a river and felt too tired.

He sat down, leaned against the limestone and waited for a boat.

There was no boat at all.

The elder brother missed his brother and missed his wife so much.

He cried a lot and died.

At the place he died, there was a strange tree grew up.


The young wife waited for her husband and his brother for days.

However, they did not show up.

She was so worried and decided to go to find them.

She went to many places, asked many people but she couldn’t see the twin brothers.

Her feet were pain and her heart was broken.

He called her husband but there was no answer.

When the wife came to the river, she was too tired.

She sat under the strange tree next to the limestone and cried.

She died and became a small plant which had heart-shape leaves.

It wound around the trunk of the strange tree.

People called the tree “Cau” (areca palm) and the plant “Trầu” (betel).

Some year later, King Hùng stopped by the riverbank.

People told him about the story.

He was so sorry for them.

The King tried to chew a betel leaf and a part of areca nut together and he felt the warmth of love and happiness.

When he spat on the limestone, the liquid was as red as blood.

The King said it could happen because of the love between the husband and wife and the love between the two brothers.

After that, people started to chew betel leaves and areca nuts with a bit of lime to redden their lisps.

The three people became inseparable in people’s mind.

Betel leaves and areca nuts were also used to offer to show home owners’ honor to their guests, their friends.

Therefore, it is said that “A betel cud is the very first conversation starter”.

At weddings, betel leaves and areca nuts became a necessary part of present that a bridegroom’s family bring to the bride’s family.

They believed that betel leaves and areca nuts will bring happiness to new married couples and give them endless love to live happily together the rest of their life.

Although the habit of chewing betel leaves is not much popular, most people who keep this habit are old ones, betel leaves and areca nuts still are the most important presents which are brought to the bride’s family.

They contain best wishes of people to the married couple.

Source: Vietnamese Legends and Folk Tales from Thế Giới Publishers

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