Vanishing Saigon

Sights, stories and secrets from Vietnam’s most dynamic city

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20 January, 2012 (17:18) | Uncategorized

The population in Asia may surge this year

Differing from Western countries, Vietnam celebrates the Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Tet around January and February. This year the Lunar New Year falls on 23rd January 2012 in the Gregorian calendar. Every Tet welcomes one of 12 animals, and this year is to honor the year of the Dragon. As a symbol of yang, the Dragon represents life, power and the emperor. Therefore it is believed that delivering a baby, especially a boy in this year will bring luxury and luck to the family and to the boy himself. During the year of the Dragon, more people get married at the beginning of the year to have a child in time. Wondering how the year turns out? Then come back at the end of the year and read A Review of the Year of Dragon 2012.

But in the mean time, take a moment to read an overview on traditions and customs of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

Year-End Parties and the Bustle of Shopping

During the Tet holiday, mobile phones and emails may appear more active because people are arranging friendly appointments. Thousands of people around the country gather together for flower fairs, shopping centers display SALE and DISCOUNT signs all over the place, and most importantly… year-end parties are held to say goodbye to the old year. If you are in Ho Chi Minh City this season, you can take in the holiday spirit. You might see everyone very busy decorating and cleaning their homes to welcome the Fortune God. And finding new clothes is an indispensable step to welcome the New Year. New is always good for the New Year.

Visiting households on the first day of Lunar New Year (xong nha)

To the Vietnamese, the first person coming to one’s home in the New Year is very important to decide the fortune of that household for the coming year. Some businessmen even choose one specific person to visit their home on the first morning of the New Year. It is believed that rich and successful persons bring luck and prosperity for the whole New Year ahead.

The 5 – Fruit Platter

In Asian mythology, the world is made of five elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Five kinds of fruits representing those elements include plum, apricot, peach, apple and Buddha’s hand fruit; accordingly, these are placed on the ancestral altar to convey the host’s wishes. Later people developed and chose their favorite fruits, based on the similarity in pronunciation, to show their desires to God, for example: “coconut” (dua or vua), papaya (du du or du), mango (xoai or xai), custard-apple (“mang cau” or “cau”) and figs (sung). Together they create “cau vua du xai sung” or “pray to God to have enough money to spend generously”

Celebrating the Lunar New Year in an original Chinese fashion

Visiting any Vietnamese family, you will be treated with banh chung banh giay (glutinous rice cake), a cultural symbol of Vietnam on the first days of the New Year. And how perfect it is to be served with sweet but salty vegetable pickles! Or enjoy a traditionally warm meal with fish or meat, soup and vegetables shared on a circular serving tray.

Yu Shang originating from Chinese culture is also a cherished food in Vietnam these days. Foods of all kinds are served on a platter for everyone to share together during the Tet holiday. If you are still wondering where to go this Tet, overwhelm yourselves with festive joy and try a traditional Chinese feast at Ngan Dinh Restaurant, 18 An Duong Vuong, District 5.

Wherever it is, a gathering is the most important element for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Cheers and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!



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