Tet (or Lunar New Year) is celebrated among some Asian countries, and it is particularly special to Vietnamese people because Tet is more than just a holiday break. The values that people share during Tet create tight bonds that keep them home, no matter where they physically live.
If I have only one word to say about Tet, it would be “warm”. Leave aside all daily worries and stress, Tet is the time for family, reunion, bonds and warmth. It is when people indulge themselves more than ever – put on their best dresses, have their hair perfectly made, and enjoy the fresh, bright, warm spring days. At Tet, people spare time for things they don’t usually do: say nice things to their loved ones, give presents, or go to places in their bucket lists.
Tet is a great excuse to be a little lazy, self-indulgent and generous. People smile more, worry less and forgive easily. Tet has the wonderful power to soften all feelings, and any problems seem to be solved after one says: “Don’t worry, it’s Tet!” and the other just warmly smile.
To many Vietnamese families, the New Year Eve’s is the most important day of the whole Tet holiday break. Everything must be ready for this meaningful moment when the whole family gather and have dinner together, watch TV, talk and enjoy the fireworks. From humble to rich families, they give their best on the New Year’s Eve dinner. It doesn’t have to be luxurious, but have to be neat and well-served. Even when people are too busy to celebrate Tet holiday, they still try their best to be at home on New Year’s Eve. These few hours are what people look forward to after a year of work.
A specialty of Vietnamese modern New Year’s Eve is a TV show called Táo Quân (originally Gặp nhau cuối năm). The show is about a year-end meeting of gods (Táo) from their respective fields (such as economy god, education god, etc.), and these gods report their previous year to Ngọc Hoàng – the most powerful god in the sky – in a hilarious and ironic way. First released in 2003, Táo Quân has been an inevitable part of New Year’s Eve in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese agree that without Táo Quân, the New Year Eve’s cannot be complete. Through ups and downs, Táo Quân is one of the most enjoyed Vietnamese TV show, although aired in only one night per year.
If there is one uncomfortable about Tet, it would be the fact that almost all business (shops, stores, supermarkets, etc.) are closed, especially ones in big cities. But the good side of this is that people can enjoy a peaceful scene that seems to never exist on a daily basis. The pace of life seem to get slower, and people have no reason to rush. It is an ideal time to enjoy some private moments and see life through different “lens”.
More than just a holiday break, Tet is special because of its values. Although Tet nowadays is strongly influenced by the westernization and modern changes, Vietnamese people still do their best to preserve traditional Tet values, which define them as a person. Tet reminds people about the value of family, traditions, community and gratitude. It consolidates a fact that cannot be denied: no matter where we are or what we do, we are Vietnamese at heart after all.
Tet is not a time, it is a feeling. It connects people to their homeland, Vietnam, with a never-ending pride. There has been a controversy on whether to combine western new year and lunar new year in order to keep the economy stay active constantly. But from the bottom of every Vietnamese’s heart, Tet is still an exclusive noun of the lunar new year – a pure oriental occasion. And as long as people still feel eager to go home, to share a New Year’s Eve dinner, to wear áo dài with pride, to feel desperately homesick when smelling the flavor of bánh chưng, Tet is still an inseparable part of Vietnamese culture.