Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vietnam Welcomes Tet, The Lunar New Year

Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
Beautiful and festive kumquat  trees help mark Tet, or the Lunar New Year, in Vietnam, where families keep them decorated in the living room.
By Van Nguyen
Junior Reporter
HANOI, Vietnam – Tet, also known as Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is the most significant holiday in Vietnam, and it’s starting today.
Since this festival holds prodigious meaning – family reunions, ancestor worship and celebration for a fresh start – everybody eagerly waits for it. Preparations start two weeks in advance for a sufficiently fabulous event.
Like the Chinese, Vietnamese people are strongly convinced that Tet marks the time when the Kitchen God, believed to be in the air on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, reports on families’ activities to Jade Emperor. In order to get the providence of the Gods, families need to perform rituals and treat the Kitchen God to many sweets and delicious foods, such as nem, pastries, noodles and the like.
Only after the Gods of the Soil depart can homeowners begin to prepare for the Tet holiday because it is considered ill-advised to welcome the spring before the Gods are back to heaven.
After the Gods are in heaven, homeowners should enthusiastically and immediately adorn their houses.
Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
A small part of Huong Nguyen's flower garden in a Hanoi neighborhood. Flowers help make the home beautiful for Tet. Nguyen said she believes flowers provide amazing moments for people.
The first thing to do is to discard old energy: clean the closets, throw away unnecessary things, carefully tidy all rooms, and move furniture to sweep away dust accumulated for years.  The second is to decorate the houses delightfully in the hope of obtaining good luck and resisting the devil.
Some rural families still plant a bamboo tree called Cay Neu in the courtyard to ward off the ominous, whereas in the cities, this tradition has regrettably been forgotten. However, almost all people decorate their abodes with colorful flowers and trees, creating an idyllically cozy and beautiful atmosphere during Tet.
Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
Nhat Tan Cherry Garden, which attracts many peach–lovers, is a famous destination for tourists at Tet.
The peach blossom, apricot flower, and kumquat tree are the most popular of plants during Tet and are regarded as symbols of Vietnamese Tet.
Kumquat trees are usually decorated in the living room in a sophisticated fashion, with luxuriant leaves and gold fruits demonstrating an auspicious year as well as abundant vitality. Peach blossom is common in the North and apricot flower is prevalent in the South, each with its own features. Peach blossom represents friendship and luck, while apricot flower expresses faithful love and prosperity.
Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
One of the 36 old quarters in Vietnam, before Tet 2013.
In addition to decorating their houses, people also buy clothes and other essential things for an eventful and unforgettable Tet holiday.
In the days leading up to Tet, streets and markets are overcrowded with people. Due to extremely high demands, Tet’s open air market takes place from the 25th to the 30th of lunar December. Vendors sell a variety of items, generating buzzing and bustling ambience.
Vietnamese people also try to pay off their debts in advance so that they will be debt-free and not sink deeper into debt in the new year.
Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
Van Nguyen's family
reunion meal.
The last day of the year is the time to express reverence for ancestors and have reunion meals.
Vietnamese families usually own an ancestral altar, which is thoroughly cleaned and adorned with new offerings during Tet, like traditional foods and the five fruits tray.
Van Nguyen / youthjournalism.org
A five fruits tray
A five fruits tray contains orange, cranberry, grapefruit, banana and pineapple. Five berries in the old sense are five elements of the human face, and an odd number represents proliferation. At reunion meals, grandparents are invited to join the party, reuniting family members and relishing traditional foods: Chung cake, Day cake, sticky rice, noodles and more.
Everyone has to be well-groomed and smile brightly, with women wearing precious jewelry and beautiful clothes, all eagerly awaiting a blissful year.
So let’s forget all the troubles of the previous year and start everything anew. Tet is here!

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