In Viet Nam there are a number of traditions that are followed within the ebb and flow of the lunar calendar. For example, on the first and fifteenth days of the lunar month the landlady will lay out offerings of food, rice wine, cigarettes, scotch, flowers and the like on the altar that sits on the top floor of our house. This is to promote prosperity and good fortune within the household.
Recently Cristina and I took part in a small ritual to rid our body of insects. Last week one of the locals informed us that on the fifth day of the fifth month (of the lunar calendar) we should eat lychees and plums before noon "to get rid of the insects" in our body. We weren't sure what this meant, and several possible interpretations (none of which seemed pleasant) were discussed, but the rather sizable language barrier that we face when talking to the locals prevented any sort of firm understanding of what was supposed to happen or why.
Fortunately, Hang (pronounced "hung") a recent addition to the teachers' house was able to clue us in, as she is both a native of Hai Phong and fluent in English (believe you me when I say this comes in handy at times). The insects referred to actually meant parasitic worms, and Hang suggested that instead of eating lychees and plums we eat sticky rice cooked with wine to rid ourselves of them, a more traditional de-worming dish.
So we did.
(But only after the rice was placed on the altar for about twenty minutes to get its mojo working.)