Tet – The biggest festival for Vietnamese. It’s time for union, celebration and having fun. Tet also changes the people conversation, people often ask each other like ‘How are you preparing for Tet?’, ‘How big is your Tet?’ or ‘How many square cake will you make?’ or ‘How much do your children give to you?’. Those all express the excitement of Tet, the importance of Tet in Vietnam.
Tet is officially held on 3 days from the 1st to the 3rd day of the lunar year. Based on regional customs, Tet can be started earlier and ended much longer than that. Tet nowadays is different from the past even its values are still remain, people still make square cake, peach flower or cumquat tree decoration, give lucky money…; however, the change of economics has changed the feeling of Vietnamese. People seem less excited about Tet than before. Tet even is a burden for quite a few of Vietnamese in society.
Tet has become a real worry for Vietnamese especially to raw labor worker because there are many things they have to prepare to buy. The average Tet must have square cakes, candy, fruits, peach flower, and money to give to children and parents. People in city may find those quite easy but countryside people who base much on rice crops may find it hard to cope with. You may wonder why people have to do it once they can not really afford. The answer may lead you to a bit of Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese often take the events as opportunities for them to show up how successful they have been during the past working year. Regardless of poor or rich, they are really scared of “loosing face” with their friends or relatives. Of course for poor people, they have nothing to show really but in their mind, having a ‘standard Tet’ or a proper Tet at best possibility for their family is a must – things to do. I have seen lots of families get a big loan after Tet. All proves how important of Tet and ‘culture pressure’ are to Vietnamese and the silent burden that people have to face now.
However, the hardness does not prevent people from enjoying the biggest festival in the year as Vietnamese are one of the most optimistic people in the world. Tet is Tet, Tet still has a big charm for Vietnamese, and people actually enjoy it so much. The strengths of Vietnam are hope and full of expectation whatever condition is. And Tet is time to wish for a better year, a better life ahead. Tet lets people stay closer to each other. So don’t be surprised if you are invited to a home meal from locals, maybe it is just a very simple meal but full of hospitality and respect.
I am writing those words while Tet is getting so closed, street getting busier than normal days in Hanoi. Everyone has their own thoughts and feelings which are readable from their faces. Burdens are still there, also worries but people are still trying to make a best Tet for their family, make a Tet like we have been doing in thousand of years without a complaint.
Tet is coming!
Chuc Mung Nam Moi – Happy new year!
PS: Please don’t call Tet as ‘Chinese New Year’ to Vietnamese. I hate it, Vietnamese people may hate it too.
Here is a wonderful Tet song you may hear in every corners of Vietnam now. Please enjoy.