Chúc Mừng Năm Mới
(Đền Cặp Tiên, Van Don, Quang Ninh Province)
Now is the time for the most-awaited holiday here in Vietnam which is the Tet. I think there couldn’t be other occasions more important and special than Tet to all Vietnamese. Tet falls on the first night of the new moon in the first month of the Lunar Calendar. For them, this is the occasion to enjoy life after a full hard-working year. It’s my first time to celebrate this holiday and let me share with you my experiences and the traditions that Vietnamese people usually do during Tet.
I. Decorating their houses
Vietnamese really spend a lot of time in decorating their houses before the Tet holiday. I celebrated Tet in the North wherein most of the people are buying Kumquat tree or Peach flowers/blossoms to display in their houses. They said that Peach blossoms symbolize vitality and show joy among people during this season. While Kumquat tree that’s prominently displayed symbolizes wealth and happiness for the new year, the more fruit on the tree the luckier your family will be.
II. Visiting their relatives
This custom shows the closeness of Vietnamese with their family. People start going to their relatives and greet them best wishes on the first day of the year. I was invited to my Vietnamese friend’s house to come and eat with them for lunch and dinner. I had a good time eating 🙂 and later on, drink some of their homemade wines. I’ve also witnessed that this is the perfect time for them to see and meet their friends after a long time.
III. Cooking delicious food
My favorite part, FOOD! LOL. 🙂 They allow long hours on preparing food for their family and friends. Some of the common foods are Rice cake (bánh chung), Boiled chicken (gà luộc), Sticky rice (gạo nếp) and more. I love Vietnamese food. I don’t know why but I was captivated the first time I tasted it and on how Vietnamese prepare their food. I’m a living testimony that their food is one of the most delicious and well-prepared food that I’ve ever tasted so far. And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without their magical Fish sauce (Nước mắm) :).
IV. Giving lucky money
No doubt, this is what Vietnamese kids looking forward to. Well, It actually applies to everyone, that’s why I also got some from my friends :). It defines itself, lucky money brings luck to kids such as intelligence and good health. They said the givers will also receive luck as they make kids feel happier. Elders also teach the kids the real value of money and how to save it for their future.
V. Visiting temples/pagoda and pray
“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.” –Mahatma Gandhi
(Cai Bau Pagoda, Van Don, Quang Ninh Province)
Vietnamese people visit temples and pagodas to pray for their family, for a happy and prosperous new year. And to show respect to Buddha and Gods who have been with them for the past year. For taking good care and granting their wishes. This also shows how religious the Vietnamese people are and how they preserved these beliefs for hundreds or maybe thousands of years. I’ve got a chance to visit some of their temples and pagodas around Quang Ninh province (Ha Long city, Cam Pha and Van Don). And I’ve also noticed that most of the people who visit were families, which displays the value of so-called “close family ties”.
I had a great time celebrating my first ever Tet in Vietnam. I appreciated Vietnam greatly, after doing a lot of things that most Vietnamese do. If you’re worried about the traffic jams, well expect it to be worst. On a brighter side, places like streets, restaurants, hotels, and houses are decorated with flowers and lights. And in some municipalities, you can watch a dazzling fireworks display. I would still encourage everyone to travel during this time as you see Vietnam at its best and most colorful.