For many foreigners living and working in Vietnam, Tet holiday is very interesting and different, because they have the chance to experience traditional customs and the beauty and quintessence of Vietnamese culture.
Mr. Linus Olson, a researcher, lecturer and university contact for Karolinska Institute of Sweden, shared that he and his Vietnamese wife have celebrated six Tet holidays in Vietnam. Like many Vietnamese families, the first day of the Lunar New Year is a very special occasion for his family to honor ancestors both from Vietnam and Sweden. Then, the following day, he visits relatives and friends according to traditions.
“Tet is in a way much more like a big western Christmas used to be, a time to meet and to pay respect to the ancestors, the living elders, as well as the current and young generations”, he said.
Sharing his impression about the special holiday, he said: “The atmosphere when everything becomes silent on the streets and everyone is in good happy mood is fantastic. The atmosphere is also different if you are in the city or in the suburbs or in the countryside, I have had the fortune to see all of them, but also the touristy way of Hoi An during Tet when its business as never before, until the fireworks. I love the way the Vietnamese celebrate it in all environments, even the touristy way”.
But what impresses him most about Tet is the kindness and friendliness that all Vietnamese people have, he emphasized.
Vaughn Cleghon, an American Scientist and Professor, said he and his wife planned to go to Hoan Kiem lake and enjoy all of the festivities that would be organized in the heart of Hanoi. “Last year we enjoyed watching the Lion dances and being surrounded by the smiling faces of everyone and hearing the joy of the laughing children”.
What he found moving about Tet is many Vietnamese people hurrying to finish their work to return home to reunite with their family and relatives. “Family! Perhaps this one word is the best description for us about the special nature of Tet. Returning home for Tet, reuniting with family, remembering the past, sharing their roots and traditions, re-establishing connections makes this holiday very special”.
When he first visited Vietnam last year, he was lucky to share time and meals with a Vietnamese family in Hanoi. “Three generations live together in harmony. This is unusual in America but still typifies the Vietnamese families we have met”.
Mr. Vaughn Cleghon and his wife
He shared that his wife is a musician and songwriter. But she had not written a new song in 10 years. Visiting Hanoi woke up her heart and she immediately wrote two new songs. “Life can spin you around, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. But we can be happy, we can be free, here in Hanoi with our new family”.
He was deeply impressed by the wide spread traditional greeting “Chuc Mung Nam Moi”, peach blossoms and kumquat trees everywhere, the gathering of families from far and near, the tradition of “lucky money”, and the celebration of the spiritual side of people by visiting pagodas and temples.
Mrs. Grainne Curtin
Living and working in Vietnam for two years and this is also the second year Ms. Grainne Curtin, an Irish teacher in Hanoi, celebrated Tet in Vietnam. She said, “Tet is a very special time in Vietnam. In school, instead of teaching pupils, I was taught about Tet and Vietnamese culture. In addition, my Vietnamese colleagues work very hard daily, thus I’m very happy when they are off work and spend time with their families”.
She said: “Last year, on the last day of the Lunar year, I and my husband were invited to have a dinner at a friend’s family. This is an amazing meal with traditional dishes such as Chung cake, pickled welsh onion and spring roll. A few days before Tet, my pupil’s mother wrapped the cake to bring to the class to invite me and colleagues. This was a very moving moment about Vietnamese Tet.”
“As Tet comes, women wear very beautiful traditional clothes, Ao dai, while children like lucky money so much. I can feel their excitement. Living in Vietnam I learnt a lot,” she added.
Grainne also said she was impressed by how Vietnamese are open and friendly with foreigners. "Last Tet, only I and my husband live here, many friends and colleagues enthusiastically invited us to their home to celebrate the holiday that I thought no country would do. So I think Vietnamese people are very open and warm".
Every nation has its own traditional holidays which have different cultural aspects. For the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, it leaves impressions in the heart of foreigners about the exciting feelings of solidarity and unforgettable experiences about traditional customs of Vietnamese people./.