Opinion
Soaking in the Tetmoshpere
  • | dtinews.vn | February 12, 2010 05:01 PM

Although this will be my first time experiencing Tet, I can't help but to share in the joy and excitement I see buzzing around the streets.

People seem to be a little friendlier, a little calmer, a little kinder, and a little happier as Tet is just around the corner. You can see and feel the Tetmoshpere everywhere you go.

The announcement that people would be getting 9 days off was even more reason to celebrate. The streets have been packed, people are buying various blossoms and gifts, and in Big-C last night, I could hardly even move because so many people were packing the aisles and buying, buying, buying for Tet.

Family is obviously at the centre of Tet, and most people will be at home to enjoy the time with relatives and close friends. People working away from their hometowns are rushing to get back and share the holiday with their loved ones. Traditionally, most people stay home for Tet, but that trend is changing, especially given the amount of time off this year. Many people will travel to destinations such as Hoi An, Halong Bay, or Sapa as well.

I have been told that the streets will be silent and empty during Tet, a sight I can't imagine in Hanoi. Many people are already heading for their Tet destinations or will be very soon.

There are several traditions associated with Tet that I'm learning about in anticipation of the big day. One such tradition is "xông nhà", which is a belief that the first person who enters your home in the new year is very important. The person, referred to as "người xông nhà", is chosen through a complex system that is based on the age of the owner of the house, gender, and some other factors I'm not exactly sure about. I will be the người xông nhà for some friends which is exciting.

I've experienced Lunar New Year several times in Asia. It is more commonly referred to as Chinese New Year in many countries. Every Asian country celebrates it in some form or another, but I have never seen such widespread enthusiasm as I am witnessing for Tet here in Vietnam. This is uniquely Vietnamese, the way the holiday is prepared for and embraced. I have been hearing about Tet since I arrived in Vietnam back in December, and now that it's finally here, I can see why Vietnamese people have been talking about it for months. Vietnam truly loves Tet. I can feel it and see its presence in everything I do and everywhere I go.

There is some extra pep in people's step for the holiday. There seems to be a lot of celebrating, exchanging of gifts and "lucky" money, gatherings and traditions being carried out. I'm looking forward to experiencing my first Tet holiday. I haven't bought any kuamquat trees or peach blossoms but I think I am ready.

Tet seems to be even more important this year with the 1,000 year anniversary of Hanoi. One Hanoian, Pham Hong Hoa, described this year's Tet to me, "This is my first Tet with my husband. I am eager this year, it's like a turning point in my life, a new start. Plus, Tet is also on Valentines day this year, making it very special."

For Nguyen Ha Phuong, Tet means, "Quality time with family. It's the only time of the year when I get to see everyone, the young and the old."

A new year is always a chance for people to start over and begin anew. Hanoian Nguyen Thu Trang shares, "Tet is a time to relax, meet relatives and forget all the bad luck of the last year and hope for good luck in the new year."

As for me, being so far away from my family, I will be spending Tet with my Vietnamese family, who have basically adopted me. I don't know what Tet will mean for me yet, but I will be able to tell you next year. We will enjoy traditional foods and celebrate what we hope will be a wonderful new year. This is an excellent opportunity for me to see and experience Vietnam, its beauty and its culture. The year of the tiger is almost here and I can't wait.

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