When you’re travelling to another country for a holiday, cultural experiences that enhance your trip are usually welcome. Holidays to Vietnam are no different. One of the best ways to plan any trip to somewhere far afield is to research the tourism board’s calendar.
For China, Chinese New Year, is the most important festival, celebrated with great pomp and splendour in China itself but also celebrated inVietnamas ‘Tet’.
Tet is the most important of all the festivals in Vietnam. It is officially three days long but celebrations sometimes last a week or more. Tet is based on the Thai lunar calendar, and its date moves around a little as such. It falls either in late January or early February at the same time as Chinese New Year. It hails the beginning of the spring, whereas the Western calendar, which probably originates from the time of year when the Roman consuls entered office, begins in January.
The Roman Catholic Church took January 1st and worked out a calendar that the whole world now uses. Interestingly, the beginning of the UK academic year in September coincides almost with the Byzantine Empire’s year start of September 1st. In many ways, an adoption of the lunar calendar would have made more sense to the world, with the calendar being more seasonally worked out than based on a political calendar.
A family celebration
The Vietnamese and Chinese New Year is all about celebrating where you come from. As such, most Vietnamese people return to their families at this time of year and many visit the graves of ancestors. People free themselves from outstanding debts and buy new clothes and lots of food. Children are given lots of attention as well as money in red envelopes (red being the lucky colour for China andVietnam).
Good things happen for a reason
Bánh chưng, the Vietnamese steamed cake made with rice and pork or bean is prepared the day before New Year’s day. The Vietnamese believe that good things happening on the first day of the New Year will allow the rest of the year to be filled with more good things. As such, if a group of people are invited to a house to celebrate, the most morally good or successful guest will be invited in first.
If you travel toVietnam during their New Year celebration, it’s interesting to check out some of the large markets. They are usually full of people and larger than they’d normally be. You can be anywhere in the country and people will be in high spirits.
Houses are decorated and the atmosphere is welcoming. If you are of particularly high standing, perhaps you will even be invited into someone’s home as his or her first guest.
John Hutchinson has enjoyed travelling since he was a young boy when his parents first took him to visit family overseas. Since leaving home, John has tracked down family all over the world and regularly jets off to faraway lands to see distant relatives.
After Vietnam, discover a hidden face of Hong Kong.