There are many variations of tugging rituals and games (keo co) in Vietnam, characterized by multi-ethnicity and territorial regions. In general, keo co is practiced by different communities across the country, from north to south, mountains to plains. However, tugging rituals and games are concentrated mostly in the northern midlands—the Red River Delta and North Central region, where the Viet (or Kinh, the majority people) has long resided and is the cradle of the wet rice and Red River civilizations. Besides, keo co is also played widely by ethnic minority groups who are the pioneers of rice cultivation in northern mountainous areas, such as Tay, Thai, and Giay.
Tugging rituals and games are often held as a part of spring festivals within villages, marking the beginning of a new agricultural cycle and expressing wishes for bumper crops, prosperity, and happiness. Tugging rituals and games are often organized in front of a village’s communal house or shrine, after commemorative rites to the local protective deities. The materials used in tugging vary from region to region; they can be made of bamboo poles, rattan cords, or hemp.
Diversity of tugging rituals and games reflects the diversity of communities, because the heritage represents the living expression of the unique traits of the different communities. At the same time, tugging rituals and games share strong commonalities regarding the themes of fertility, prosperity, and harmony. It is essentially part of agricultural rituals and thus bears the characteristics of agricultural culture, weather, and crops.