Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New-year customs of the Vietnamese

Tết (New-year days) can not go without pork, salted onions, red scrolls, New-year tree, square cakes, peach flowers and mandarin oranges. No matter where you live, Tết is very important and more meaningful even for foreigners on the days. Tết starts with worship of the kitchen Gods on 23rd of lunar December. Traditionally, by the year-end, the Gods fly to the heavens to deliver a report about daily activities of people on earth and to pray for lucks and blesses to the commoners.

To be grateful, right from 20th – 23rd days, the Việts pay tribute to their ancestors and dead relatives. In some localities, they do this in lunar March (thanh minh Tết). Before and after Tết, people set up a small bamboo (New-year tree) in front of their houses to keep away evils and devils and to protect family members.

The last day of the lunar year, everybody prepares for year-end party (at noon), then get ready for New-year Eve. When the clocks strike 12 at midnight, it’s the most sacred moment, people go to temples, pagodas to pray for luck, then pick up a small branch (New-year lucky branch) and burn incenses on altars.

The New-year Eve party has sticky rice, a chicken or boiled pig’s leg, alcohol, flowers, betel and areca-nut… After the ceremony, the whole family share the food, exchange best wishes and “lucky money”. The first-footer to the family is very important because it means a lucky or unlucky year to come. That’s why promised first-footer comes as invited.

On New-year day (1st day), children get newly-dressed and parents put on smart clothes, all go on visits to relatives, friends…

Whether you are rich or poor on every family-altar, there are worship-objects: fruits, flowers… and incenses get burnt all 3 days.

Tết in Việt Nam is a traditional culture handed down for thousands of years, it’s a national culture to be preserved.

                                                               XUÂN THẮNG
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