Saigon’s Nguyen Hue Street transforms every New Year into a floral paradise and has giant images of the animal representing the year.
Since the early 21st century Nguyen Hue Street in HCMC’s District 1 has been the main spring flower market for locals. People went there not only to buy flowers but also to enjoy the flower market during Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday.
The city moved the spring flower market to September 23 Park, a 10-minute drive from the old location, causing many to long for a walk again on Nguyen Hue.
In 2004 Nguyen Hue made a comeback but in a completely different garb: There was no more selling of flowers, and the place was meant solely for a spring experience. Every year since the street featured new themes and ideas.
The first animal in the zodiac is the mouse, which was featured in Nguyen Hue in 2008 with the theme ‘Overcome’. There was a family of mice made from soft materials in giant sizes.
Nguyen Hue flower street in the Year of the Ox, 2009, had the theme ‘Faith’. The image of buffalo herds resting by bamboo trees recurred throughout the 720-meter street.
The theme of 2010 was ‘Spring Dawn’ and featured a pair of tigers made of hard plastic lying majestically by a tree.
The 2011 New Year flower street had the theme ‘New Heights’ to reflect the city’s efforts for greater economic, political and social achievements.
The street entrance had a picture of happy, smiling cats welcoming visitors to a true and colorful southern Tet.
“Vietnam, my hometown” was the Tet theme in 2012. The striking image of a dragon spraying flowers was made by weaving hyacinth and bamboo.
The big attraction at the main gate in 2013 was a solid mascot clad in cajuput bark and curling its tail in the shape of a heart. ‘The Heart of Vietnam’ set the tone for that year.
2014, with the theme ‘Ho Chi Minh City, the city I love’ featured five statues of mighty horses dragging a clock behind them as a symbol of the new year. The horses were racing against time, overcoming all difficulties as galloped ahead.
The 2015 Lunar New Year flower street was held on Ham Nghi Street. It was a temporary option as the city was renovating Nguyen Hue Street for the metro route No.1.
The 580m flower street with the theme ‘Vietnamese Identity – Vietnam’s Pride’ featured a family of goats inspired by the images of mountain goats in Ninh Binh Province in the north.
The image of goats with their heads up on a hill surrounded by flowers and rocks symbolized a new year, a promising future.
The next year the flower street returned to Nguyen Hue as ‘2016 Tet Ho Chi Minh City – peace, prosperity and development’.
For 12 years (2004 – 2015) the image of the animal representing the year had always been placed in a central position, but in 2016 the family of monkeys moved to the sides.
The 2017 flower street was themed ‘The City bearing the name of Uncle Ho – the desire to shine bright’. At the gate lay a couple of giant chickens representing reunion and prosperity. The rooster was 3.5 m high, the hen was 2.8 m high and their flock of chicks was 0.6-1 m high. Visitors could also “hear” them thanks to a sound system.
In the 15th year Nguyen Hue carried the theme ‘Rising Aspiration’, with effigies of a family of Phu Quoc dogs looking on cheerfully and affectionately at the main gate.
The pig, the last of the 12 animals in the zodiac, is vividly displayed on Nguyen Hue Street in 2019 with the theme ‘Ho Chi Minh City – Steady Rise’.
At the center of the street are the effigies of a family of nine pigs dressed like humans and going shopping for Tet at Ben Thanh Market. The parents are nearly 3 m high and in a long-sleeved tunic and bandanna in two colors: red for luck and gold for prosperity.
Story by Quynh Tran