Culture and Life
As February comes on the scene of 2018, there are two major events that we will celebrate here in Hanoi...
My (Cindy's) Birthday...hehehe...AND Tet.
I will be glad for starting another year of life on this earth, but I really want to share with you about Tet.
Tet is a major holiday around here. It is the Chinese New Year. An interesting tradition with this New Year is that it is known for the animal that goes with it more than the number of the year. Last year, 2017, the year was the year of the rooster.
This year, 2018, it is the year of the dog. So, using my American humor, I can say, last year we crowed and this year we will bark. Oh, I know that's really corny! :)
A side-note to illustrate cultural diversity: I was in a language class with other ladies from Asian countries (Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, China), and the instructor asked "what animal are you?" My mind went whirling...........
"What animal am I?"
I thought of fun games I had played with groups where you pick an animal that describes yourself. I concluded, "No, that's not what she's talking about." I thought of one of the personality profiles that uses animals to identify personality types, and I concluded again, "No, that's not what she's talking about." As I was going through this barrage of mental gymnastics to figure out "what animal am I?", I noticed the other ladies were answering with much ease and no hesitation. Wow! So, finally, I decided that I had to admit I was clueless and ask, "what do you mean by, what animal am I?" Oh! And then the light bulb came on...the year you are born is identified with an animal (the Chinese New Year system)! Well, with this new revelation, I scrambled to get my phone and do a google search of my birth year and what animal is associated with it.
I found out that I am an ox! Oh great! I am a cow! Moo-Moo!
Okay, back to Tet. I will give you my foreigner knowledge and experience with Tet in Hanoi. To find out more details and history, Google will take you to many informational sites!
First thing about Tet, make sure you have plenty of food and water BEFORE the holiday hits full force. Prices go up, stores close, transportation gets sparse, and people go back to their home villages to be with family. Tet is a big family holiday, so many people do not work for 3-7 days.They travel to their home villages to eat special foods, bring sacrifices to the family altar for ancestor worship, visit fortune tellers, share stories with families, etc.
Second thing about Tet. People work very hard for weeks before Tet to get everything ready for this occasion. Tet is a time where all the old is cleaned out to prepare for the new. So major cleaning happens in homes and businesses. Projects are pushed to be finished before Tet (building of a new home, renovations, etc.). Businesses wrap up their year end business to start a new year. For about 4-6 weeks, the attention of the people is on Tet and its preparations.
Third thing is be ready for visitors and to receive gifts. Tet is also about visiting friends and special people. There are gifts given at this time. I don't fully understand all the customs with this, but I know of a few things.There is the lucky money that comes in beautifully decorated red and gold envelopes. I am told children especially look forward to getting lucky money. There are gifts of fruit that are also given. Miniature oranges are common along with pomelo fruit. Also branches of a tree (peach trees I think) bearing beautiful pink or yellow blossoms maybe brought to the home as a gift. Or you may get a full tree in a pot.
Fourth thing to know is that Hanoi becomes quiet for a few days. We will get to experience this quietness at Tet. Last year we traveled away to Thailand, but this year, we will stay around here for the full experience. Many of our expat friends talk about how wonderful these few days are.The traffic is much less bringing a type of peace to what is
Oh and one last thing...this year Tet is later than usual (it is determined by the lunar calendar).
It is celebrated February 16,2018. And remember, the full celebrating season will last about 3-7 days starting on
Tet Eve (February 15th).
As they say and sing with much excitement...Tet Tet Tet Den Roi (Tet is coming!)
Here are some snapshots in Hanoi as the city prepares to celebrate this exciting national holiday!
(click on READ MORE)
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Cindy writes about her adventures, observations, and other nuggets from living in another nation. She and John live in SE Asia. She will also share nuggets from her 58 plus years of life.