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Celebrating Tet in Vietnam

For many centuries, Vietnamese people have celebrated Tet, the lunar new year. As they welcome the coming year and bid farewell to the past, they prepare traditional customs to mark this special day.

As the spotted dove chirps three times announcing Tet
Let us erect the Tet pole and eat bean cakes

Whether a farmer within the countryside or employee in the town, everyone in Vietnam is stirred by this folk song. The image of a Tet pole raised in front of a village house (where it's thought to bring good luck and protection from evil spirits to the family inside) evokes sweet reminiscences of family gatherings and past celebrations. Whereas it varies from region to region, the pole is regularly made up of a bamboo trunk that has been stripped of its lower branches, leaving solely some young leaves at the highest. Connected is a bamboo basket containing betel and areca nuts and votive paper cash.

Tet poles also are raised in pagodas where they take part in baked clay musical instruments, votive paper and festive banners. Lime powder is sprinkled round the entrance of the pagoda to block ghosts.

Burning incense

Incense burning at Tet contains a long history and continues these days as a result of the smell of burning incense is assumed to make harmony between heaven and earth, man and spirit. There are several types of incense like frank incense, black incense, spiral incense, and musk incense, which may be burned not only in worship but also to rid a home of insects and bad odours. It's said that the smell of burning incense will carry somebody's spirit. Maybe that is why academics used to burn it in their studies.

Freeing birds and fish

Releasing captured birds and fish is a Buddhist custom that's administered at Tet as a result of individuals take into account it an honest deed which will facilitate them enter the New Year with luck. In the final day of the outgoing year, people flock to shop for birds and fish, that they then unleash on the morning of the subsequent day: the primary day of the New Year.

Another way to boost one's luck for the upcoming year is to run far from the house, village or another place at a time and during a direction that has been selected by a fortuneteller.

Visiting the pagoda

According to belief, individuals often visit their neighbourhood pagoda or temple once they need completed Tet celebrations at home. Such a visit will bring blessing from Buddha and from the spirit world. Worshipers jostle to approach the pagoda's altar and, when they pray for luck within the coming year.

Many will purchase incense at the pagoda and carry it home, where they'll burn it in giving to Buddha, the family's ancestors and protecting spirits like the Kitchen God, who will travel to heaven carrying news of every family members' good and bad deeds. Others, rather than buying incense, decide a branch from a tree within the pagoda's grounds (usually Banyan) and in the same way supply it as a present to their ancestors by inserting it on the family altar. Often, a family will raise the eldest girl amongst them to hold out this task. Families who pay explicit attention to tradition can make sure that she visits the pagoda at a particular time and from a particular direction as foretold by a fortuneteller. She must pluck a branch from the oldest tree within the pagoda grounds or from a Banyan close to the village gate. Thanks to its long life, the Banyan represents longevity in individuals and is valued for that reason. Also, its name in Vietnamese, will have many meanings, one of which is 'much'. So the tree offers not solely longevity but also plenty.

Buying good luck and selling foolishness

In days of yore, markets sprung up around Vietnam throughout the primary few days of the New Year where individuals came to buy good luck and sell foolishness. Every item they sold would relieve them of the previous year's misfortune whereas every item they bought would bring good luck in the coming back months. At these markets, product modified hands rapidly and nobody came home empty handed. Throughout those initial few days of Tet, one might hear vendors cry: "Who can purchase foolishness?" The products they sold consisted of rice, cakes, sweetmeats and toys, all of that were sold while not profit.

First visitor

According to custom, the primary person to visit a home in the New Year must be somebody who can bring good luck and prosperity to the family. That person must be of fine character and is usually a person. Just one occasion that person has entered the house can children leave it to gift Tet greetings to their elders.

If the visitor isn't a family member, he ought to be invited in before entering and will bring with him a firecracker, which he can light at the gate before entering the house and giving his greetings to the family inside. In step with ancient beliefs, the firecracker will block ghosts whereas letting happiness in.

Tet greetings

Greetings created during the Tet period are special and custom created for every recipient. To an old man or woman, younger individuals should supply longevity and happiness; to a farmer, the greeting ought to promise favourable weather and a. bumper crop; to a trader, it should hope for a thriving business and to a government official, fast promotion. Occasionally, these greetings are accompanied by lucky cash offered within a little red envelope.

While the annual exercise of Tet customs might morph with time, their essence keeps unchanged. They're proof, if proof be required, that Vietnam's cultural traditions are alive and well, travelling safely from generation to generation.


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