The western New Year festival is not the most important for the Vietnamese; the lunar New Year is the one that every Vietnamese celebrates. Tet Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year's Day) is very sacred, and it usually falls in the month of February. This is a great chance for everyone to spend their saving money on shopping. Preparing for this New Year is always a nightmare because there are so many things to buy for cooking and for house decoration such as flowers, paintings, poultry, sticky rice for making traditional cake, fake money
and other stuff for burning...
Nowadays, not many families make traditional cakes at their homes because they can order them from shops, which is not really expensive and they can save time for doing other things. But people who live in the countryside maintain that traditional custom for lots of reasons, and the main reason is they have time and space to cook it.
Tet is also the time for family reunions, being together, praying and standing in the queue for putting incense on the altars to commemorate their ancestors. This also is the time for people to visit their neighbors, friends and relatives. During the first three days, the first person who comes to the house offering Tet greetings is considered as the visitor of the year. This is very important for Vietnamese because the first person's age affects the family's whole year of doing business or bringing them good or bad luck. Lots of people choose the first person they want to visit their houses and sometime if someone unexpected knocks on their door, they may just ignore them.
Tet in Viet Nam now has a different atmosphere compared to past years. When I was a little boy, on the last 20 days before Tet, every house set off fireworks, as if it was a competition. It was great with lots of noise. But I do agree with the government that the banning of fireworks protects against accidents.
Another very interesting and cozy thing on this special occasion is, when you come over to anybody's house, that you should give a little money to the children for luck. This is called Li Xi. All you need to do is put money in a red envelope and wish them luck and health in life and they will wish you the same but in a different, funny way depending on how old they are. This is the most exciting aspect for kids at Tet and they always hang around when they see people come to their houses. You also should give money in the same red envelop for old people with special wishes. It doesn't mean you have to give to everyone or give lots of money, just small money for special luck.
On the occasion of Tet, our government also makes lots of decorations in public places and on the streets. There are lots of places for both adults and kids to play, lots of festivals during this special event for such things as food, poetry, singing and beauty contests...
Labels: Traditional Culture