Opinion
So this is Tet
  • | dtinews.vn | February 14, 2010 06:20 PM

Chúc mừng năm mới (happy New Year)!

The Lunar New Year is a special event filled with tradition, history, joy and celebration.

This was my first Tet, and it was a very special occasion. Some moments have to be experienced and can't be justified with words, but I will try. Our Tet was one filled with people from different places, with different stories, all brought together through random events. There were two Vietnamese, two Estonians, two Swiss and one American, all huddled together to welcome the new year. For all of the foreigners mentioned, it was our first Tet. I have been hearing about this occasion since I moved to Vietnam and have therefore been eagerly anticipating this unique holiday for quite some time.

I spent the previous two days in the amazing presence of Halong bay, returning to Hanoi in time to bring in the new year. The entire atmosphere of Vietnam is unique at this time of year. Streets are abnormally calm, smiles exceptionally abundant, and saying "Chuc mung nam moi" to strangers has become my hobby.

We began the festivities with a fabulous, traditional, authentic, home-cooked, Vietnamese meal. There was incense, gifts for the Gods, a chicken with a rose in its mouth, candles, wine, friends, and conversation for the ages. I felt truly blessed to experience Tet with such fabulous company and interesting people. I may not be from Vietnam, but during Tet, I felt as if I were. I feel overwhelmingly honoured to be a part of this special day in a very special place.

Streets are packed during the New year's Eve.

After we finished our meal, we all sat around, sharing stories, talking about life, and figuring out what Tet is all about. As the time slipped away, we eventually headed out towards West Lake to witness the fireworks. The area itself was packed with exuberant faces ready to bring in the 1,000th year anniversary of Hanoi, and the year of the tiger. We scurried to find a place to soak in the sights, and eventually made our way across an old, creeping, fragile dock. The fireworks pounded and echoed beginning at 11:59 pm, taking over what was a misty and fog-filled sky. It was a joyful celebration, and total strangers kindly shared it with us. It was surreal.

The show lasted a good 20 minutes and after it was finished, we were off with our friends. There were more traditions to be fulfilled. The person whom first enters your home in the new year is very important in Vietnam, and for one of my friend's, it was his duty. We arrived at his wife's parents home some time after midnight, and were warmly welcomed with open arms. We entered the home, and I believe it's safe to say that five foreigners inside was a unique sight and a first. We shared a drink, shared some photos, and said goodbye.

It was now my turn to enter my friend's home, a gesture which I felt blessed to be asked to do. I walked into his home and then we all continued sharing our experience. The conversations were still going, the company remained, and eventually the night faded away. There are no specific words to describe my experience, but the feeling is unique. I'm blessed to be here and am excited for the upcoming year in my new home. I'm very lucky to be able to bring in the new year amongst such amazing people, in such an amazing country. My first Tet is one I shall never forget.

May you and yours all be blessed this year.

Welcome to 2010 - the year of the tiger. Chuc mung nam moi.

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