Last week, Viet Nam News raised the topic following recent proposals by experts and economists about merging the solar and lunar new years into one by celebrating the traditional one altogether with the solar New Year.
Here are some opinions we collected.
Amiad Horowitz, American, Ha Noi
I think it would be a sad day if Viet Nam ever gave up its traditions for the sake of the economy. Every country and culture is unique. That’s part of doing international business.
Ricky Forester, American, Ha Noi
Tet is Asian tradition and moreover very important in family life here in Viet Nam. I think it would be wrong to screw with it. If people do not like Tet, do not live in Viet Nam. If people do not like New Year, they should not live in New York. As for merging them, they mean different things to different people and I feel they should be separate as they are.
Companies that employ foreigners should allow those foreigners to have their holidays off. I own a company and will employ Vietnamese. So, I must let them off for Vietnamese holidays even though I will work through them. It’s all part of keeping Viet Nam Viet Nam, while allowing exchange and an open mind toward foreign influence in today’s global world.
James Nguyen, Vietnamese, Adelaide South Australia
I do not think many people will accept merging the two new year holidays into one, including me. Tet is more important to me. As a banker, I have to work during New Year for the first reason, but also I really, really love the Vietnamese preparations for Tet, including the ceremony of releasing fish for Tao Quan (The God of Kitchen) to go to Heaven on December 23 of the lunar year, setting fire to the fake money and the way people make dishes for the evenings of Tet.
People go out to buy peach trees and other pot plants. They go to the supermarket to bring back as many things as possible. They visit relatives on the first and second days of Tet and receive lucky money.
Besides, there are still too few holidays in Viet Nam. More holidays and more Tet please. Also, I want a Christmas holiday in Viet Nam, and more holidays for the New Year as well.
Matthew Kershaw, Australian, Ha Noi
Is there a sane Vietnamese person out there that would actually say that we should give up Tet New Year and the most important tradition/holiday in the country? I would like to hear the argument some may have against Tet. I mean there would be no Vietnamese person I know of that would say we should no longer have the Tet holiday. Perhaps young couples who don’t like to look after their kids for more than a week may complain Tet is too long.
Alex Johnson, American, Ha Noi
Both calendars are equally significant in marking time. So, merging them doesn’t really make any sense. And the convenience factor is totally subjective.
David Wood, English, Nha Trang
As an English man in my tenth year of living in Viet Nam, I find the Tet holiday a bit of a pain, but in no way whatsoever would I like to see it changed and why should it? It’s a massive part of the culture and you can already see the smiles on the faces of people in anticipation of Tet coming soon. Yes it may effect business and production but that does not seem to bother China [the world's largest economy] who does exactly the same.
Maybe the Government employees get a nice day holiday [in the coming Tet] but the vast majority gets 3 days and to mess with it or take it away would be just downright selfish and cruel.
You know the Vietnamese are very tolerant of Westerners living among them. At our local church on Christmas Eve, there were more happy Vietnamese outside the church looking in than there are worshipers inside. On New Years day, I was even greeted with a few “happy new year”. But in their hearts the new year is Tet, so ignore these economists and so called experts. Money is not everything and don’t mess with it.
Nguyen Viet Phuong, Vietnamese
I’ve seen people here talk about how everyone’s slacking off around the Lunar New Year time and that we take holidays twice a year. So, it raises the question whether we should just focus on the solar calendar, am I missing any point?
Ok, then why do people not take into consideration that in Viet Nam we take only a day off for the global New Year Eve? It’s not like we take two weeks off twice a year and everything stops during that time, so what’s the point of merging? Not to mention that the Lunar New Year in Viet Nam is just about the same length as [if not even shorter than] Christmas holiday abroad.
Gabriel Boyer, American, HMC City
As an American expat living in Sai Gon for over three years, I have come to really appreciate the rich culture of Viet Nam.
Nothing represents this culture more deeply than the Tet holiday. Tet is everything for the Vietnamese, it is a time that will hold the luck for the year to come, it is a time to see family, to embrace your roots, and to eat the special foods of Viet Nam.
It won’t matter if economists and experts around the world agree that celebrating Tet tay (solar New Year) and Tet is taking a small toll on the Vietnamese economy, because every worker in VN knows;Tet is not about making money and working, it is about the riches of Viet Nam and of being Vietnamese, and taking the time to relax in the country side and forget about money (except of course “Lucky Money”), if at least for a week or two.
Robert Fries, American, San Antonio, Texas, US
As a foreigner, I fell in love with Viet Nam’s friendly people, different customs and cultural differences. I have learned much and have much more to learn.
Tet is special to me as I am married to a Vietnamese woman and I enjoy following all the customs associated with it. Being with family and friends during this special time is one of my favorite experiences. We share the experience of the fantastic flower displays in downtown HCM City and the parks.
My vote is to keep Tet and all it represents. Please don’t dilute it by tacking on an additional holiday. The other New Year could be simply recognised for one evening for those who wish, a special dinner or party.
In the US, more and more people don’t celebrate it as drunk drivers place too many people at risk for folks to risk traveling somewhere for a party.
Tung Hoa, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
In my opinion, holidays should be regular to strengthen the economy. Our long standing traditions may be limited to a shorter length of time, say, three days to be the longest.
In fact, most of our people are not wealthy enough to enjoy the long holiday. They, including myself, will spend time on cheap thrills to spend the time.
Bad habits come out such as drink driving and gamblings. We need to import all of the other holidays and preserve ours as well.
Scott Homan, American, Ha Noi
Commerce or business or the economy should never be the driving reason to alter a socially enriching time. I’m only kind of aware of what Tet is like. Thanksgiving in the USA is a social family-oriented holiday usually spent quietly with close family and friends.
It is, however, quite controversial since the real story involves genocide and all out warfare against the Native Americans of one region, so I don’t speak for all Americans.
In recent years, it has been slowly taken over by consumerism. Shops are staying open preparing for Christmas shopping sales. What used to be a multi-day family gathering has turned into a commercial shopping spree with the lowest prices and people going mad about consuming things for themselves and others.
People may spend up to five days just shopping and stressing about prices and advertisements. It’s pretty much a nightmare. It was arguably the only non-commercial holiday apart from buying loads of specialty foods and now it has become focused on the best deals on electronics and toys.
The day of the holiday and those following generate the peak sales of the year for many huge corporations.
Phuong Vu, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I think people should consider the effect of the Government sector on the economy during the Tet holiday. To my knowledge, the Tet atmosphere in Government offices spans at least three weeks (one before for preparations and two after for visiting and enjoy local festivals).
The problem with this is that the Government sector manages the procedures affecting the whole economy. Guess what happens when they enjoy Tet for that long? — VNS