People have different definitions of beauty coming from different cultures. Some cultures find connecting with their religion to be the most beautiful thing.
Cultures like Chinese or Egyptian used attractive jewellery to show their wealth and power, and from that, it brings value to a husband or a wife. This can be viewed as beautiful because the appeal of wealth can be considered beautiful. In some cultures, the modesty of women is perceived as being beautiful, even the culture of hip hop is beautiful.
In Vietnam, there are some interesting customs which are considered as the beauties of the Vietnamese culture – Tet holiday. It is the Lunar New Year which falls on the same day as Chinese New Year. For Vietnamese, Tet is like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, all in one place. It is the perfect time for families to return home and celebrate the upcoming new year together.
For me, it was a knock about expatriate adventure in the nucleus city of Hanoi and seeing how happy and excited the Vietnamese were in full swing for a preparation of the Tet holiday.
It comes down to this. The newcomers at welcoming parties are the only people unified in their understanding of Vietnam that makes you realise how all of them contribute to make their Vietnamese Tet unique from other nations.
Prepping for a New Year
Aside from clearing their cluttered mind after a one year chaotic office activities that filled with multiple stress and busy streets in the big cities. Preparations begin by cleaning and decorating their houses with festive items like peach and apricot blossom, not to mention that the yellow colour of the apricot flower that brings the signals that Tet has arrived – these lovely flowers can be seen everywhere.
Some of the families go so far as to repaint their houses’ exterior in the hopes of getting rid of the past year’s bad luck. It is also believed to be lucky to buy new clothes and get a fresh haircut.
On top of that, some of the Vietnamese women would wear the traditional tunic or “ao dai”, coupled with some poses to get that perfect picture they wanted to be that would somehow add some characters to the festival’s formal atmosphere on the streets.
New Year’s day traditions
On Lunar New Year, most families meet and exchange gifts and have a traditional meal together. They are often visiting their relatives to give their best wishes and handing them a red envelope or ‘lucky money’ to their elders, parents and children to wish them a lucky and healthy year. Many families plant a new year’s tree in front of the house and wrap it with ‘lucky red paper’. The tree is removed at the end of the first week of New Year.
After the family meals, many Vietnamese attend their local pagoda to worship their ancestors or perhaps do this kind of activity on the first day of New Year that makes you more appreciate the beauty of their own culture how Vietnamese respect and are humble when visiting their favourite temples and pagodas even how serious crowds may bring on their way.
In the big cities
In major cities, such as Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Da Nang, Tet celebrations are similar to new year celebrations in western countries. People flock to dance clubs and bars or attend big events downtown to watch the fireworks, which are ready to set off to scare away the evil spirits, who might otherwise bring bad luck. This is a time of enjoyment and there is a lot of eating and drinking involved in the celebrations. Stores and neighbourhoods in the streets of Hanoi are covered with sparkling colours like the reddish yellow kumquat trees, coloured lights and red banners.
Food on Tet holiday
Wherever you go, it is clear that one of the faces of culture that is most important is food, and that includes the people in Vietnam, especially during Tet celebrations. Local residents believe that what a person does on New Year’s Day dictates thenature throughout the year, and eating a lot represents the hope that no one will go hungry in the coming year.
In the days leading up to the holiday, the Vietnamese traditionally give gifts of food to family members, friends and ancestors. The traditional meals include foods such as bang chung, a sticky rice cake filled with pork meat and green beans, bang, a bamboo and pork soup; and orange sticky rice. Families would place a five fruit tray at their ancestor’s altar during Tet Holiday.
In between the bustling streets that were jam packed with people, motorbikes and shops just a few days ago had turned into a ghost town in some places. Most businesses shut down for the entire week of Tet celebrations. Because the holiday is the important time for Vietnamese families to spend time together, travelling in Vietnam is as hectic fever as travelling during Christmas is in many other parts of the world. Any travel plans in the country must be arranged well especially prior to Tet, not to mention that most of the sightseeing like museums or famous restaurants are closed. Since most of the celebration takes place in the homes of friends and families, visitors might feel left out for most of the week unless they have close friends or families in Vietnam.