There have grown a lot of legends around the Vietnamese New Year celebrations. Today we say good-bye for one week to the kitchen god Ông Tao or Tao Quan as he is also called, to go to heaven. After his appointment for reporting to the Jade Emperor he will return home only on of New Year’s eve. But actually at Ông Tao it is not only one God, but even three, as the legend says:
Long ago, there lived a couple. Trọng Cao and Thị Nhi were married for a long time, but had no children. This fact did nothing to a happy coexistence and the marriage was very discordant. Because Thị Nhi was beaten often by her husband, she left him and eventually married some time later a man named Pham Lang.
The abandoned Trọng Cao went bankrupt and became a beggar. One day he came to the house of his ex-wife. She recognized him and put him in front of a particularly plentiful meal. Suddenly her second husband came home and Thị Nhi had no place to hide as in a sack of straw in the garden.
While waiting for dinner Phạm Lang began to burn straw to have fertilizer for the fields. To atone for his old mistakes and to protect his ex-wife, Trọng Cao was burned in his sack and came of course to death. As Thị Nhi noticed the incident, she wathched as her first husband died with a smile on his lips. She realized that there was still love, felt guilty for his death and jumped into the fire to die with him. As a witness of this drama, the second husband understood the situation. Out of love for his wife and regret at the death of the couple, he also jumped into the fire.
When the three arrived at the Jade Emperor in heaven then, he was so touched by her tragic story, that he made them gods.