Ong Tao Kitchen God
One of the many interesting varieties of Vietnam facts, are cultural references to food and cooking. As a
country steeped in a rich, ancestral background surrounded by oriental influences, like China, Vietnam
has nurtured lore for sacred deities.
The Kitchen God, also known as God’s wife, is similarly recognized as one of the Chinese gods. Vietnam
and china also share the same day on New Year’s, celebrating theirs each an hour apart due to the time
Ong Tao is linked to Tet, the Vietnam New Year. It’s an annual event, based on the lunar cycle and
represents the first day of spring. This day is seen as a time of rebirth, luck and new energy, which is
protected and honored as sacred. During Tet, the Kitchen God is said to visit families and act as an ambassador between the Vietnamese
people and the gods. They prepare and hold their feasts in honor of Ong Tao as a sending forth of luck
and prosperity for their families.
Among the facts of Vietnam, the Kitchen God is a prominent cultural deity
The stove in a Vietnamese or Chinese family’s kitchen can also signify the Kitchen God. Because these
countries are so heavily populated, many families would live together in one home and share their
kitchen. When a new home is declared, a Stove God is ceremonially created to represent that
Chinese families, in particular, hung what appeared to be wall art over their stove. On it was depicted the
kitchen god, and the kitchen god’s wife, and is placed at the new year. It resides with the family for the
entire year, until the family burns the parchment, thus sending the Kitchen God to heaven to represent
them to the Jade Emperor.
The God’s wife story in Vietnam is well-known, much like the stories in the Holy Bible in other parts of the
world. This legend, involving the family on earth, the heavens, the Kitchen God and the Jade Emperor is
also a major part of Vietnamese culture.
In short, the Kitchen God’s estranged wife was so madly in love with him, being her first husband that
she set herself ablaze. Ong Tao cast himself in with her, as a tribute of their love. Sadly, what drew them
apart in their life on earth was their lack of children.
Upon entering the Jade Empire in the heavens, the Emperor requested their presence. He was so
moved by their love for each other that he promised to provide them with the joys of family life, by turning
them into gods. In return, they would inform the Jade Emperor on the credibility of the families they share
a home with.
The Kitchen God’s wife and fire symbology
After his wife left him, Ong Tao became destitute. She married a hunter who offered her comfort and
safety from the abuse of Ong Tao, who had taken to drink.
Ong Tao sought after his wife, and changed his ways when he realized his love for her. Turning up at the
hunter’s home, he met his wife, who offered him food and clothing. This wasn’t to the hunter’s liking, and
so his new wife threw herself into flames out of despair for being cut off once again from Ong Tao.
Ong Tao and the hunter both followed in their regret, and threw themselves into the fire. The symbol of
fire, which is used to cook food and nourish the family, is also used to fuse these characters together into
On Tao’s personage.
The Kitchen God is a fact about Vietnam that’s intriguingly balanced in light and dark details.