Illustration by Trịnh LậpViet Nam News by Mary Pecaut I first set foot in Việt Nam in 2014. As a US citizen embarrassed by my country’s policies during and following the American-Việt Nam War, I was uncertain about the welcome that awaited me. Because I spoke French and had family members living in Toronto, I prepared to answer that certain-to-be-asked question: Where are you from? By replying, Canada. I was pleasantly surprised to find that US citizens are very welcome in Việt Nam and that there was no need to hide my identity. Upon arrival, I started my quest to understand my new home country and her people. Usually when I arrive in a newly assigned country, I dive into the local culture through food, art and language. I soon discovered that the best window into Vietnamese culture was by understanding a unique Vietnamese national holiday. Tết Nguyên Đán, otherwise known as Tết, is the most important and popular … [Read more...] about Can a holiday explain a national identity?
Chinese kitchen god
Tet season to sell this special cake. These stalls are typically opened by families who have lived in the area for decades. Among the many traditional cakes favored by Saigonese during the Tet season are pomegranate cakes, which stand out for their unique shape, and eye-catching red petal tops. The cake is named after pomegranate because it is shaped like one, not because it is made with the fruit. Elders in the area say the pomegranate cake is usually offered to the Kitchen God on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month. Many people also buy the cakes for displaying them in the house until the end of Lunar New Year celebrations. It is believed that the cake will bring good things for the whole family, especially love. Luong Van Long, 54, has been making the cake for more than 30 years in District 5. "Like some other families, my family always sets up a pomegranate cake shop on Nguyen Trai Street every year," Long said. Making and shaping the cake requires effort and skills. … [Read more...] about ‘Pomegranate’ cake adds color and sweetness to Tet in Saigon
On Saturday, the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre relived the Tet pole ceremony that used to take place under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) to signal that Lunar New Year day preparations can begin. The Tet pole, or Neu was an important rite under the Nguyen Dynasty. It informed the populace that the Lunar New Year was coming. The long bamboo pole is traditionally placed in front of the house to prevent evils from invading the house’s spirit, especially on the 23rd day of the last lunar month when Kitchen Gods leave the house to submit their reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven. Starting from the Hien Nhon gate, the bamboo pole, more than 15m long is carried on the shoulders by 10 people dressed as soldiers of the Nguyen Dynasty. They pass through the Trieu To Temple and Thai Hoa Palace to arrive at The Mieu Temple. The elegant music band of the royal court follows the pole, playing old royal music. At The Mieu Temple, an elaborate altar has been prepared for the ceremony. … [Read more...] about In Hue, Vietnam gets into pole position to celebrate Tet
Viet Nam News Free music gala, Tết style More than 10,000 migrant workers living in rural districts will attend a music gala at the HCM City Youth Cultural House called Golden Ochna Welcomes Tết (Lunar New Year), which is part of the city’s Labour Federation’s charitable and cultural activities during the national holiday. As many as 60 singers, dancers and comedians will participate, including last year’s winners of the Golden Ochna Award, an annual award that honours Vietnamese performers in theatre, music, film and TV. Dancers from Bông Sen Theatre will open the night performing the traditional dance "HCM City Welcomes Spring". Pop stars Mỹ Tâm and Đông Nhi, and the pop band Monstar and Uni5 will be featured, singing popular Lunar New Year songs. Trấn Thành and Hoài Linh, Golden Ochna winners in comedy and theatre, will perform extracts from comic dramas about the Ông … [Read more...] about Free music gala, traditional dishes for Tết
The sidewalk on Pham Ngoc Thach Street in District 1, Saigon, has become a calligraphy street since January 22. Many skillful, talented calligraphers present and sell their works here. Calligraphy works, mostly Chinese letters symbolizing what people wish in their lives, like good health, happiness and wealth, are much sought after during the Tet season. The place offers an important cultural experience every spring in Saigon. This year, the street has 30 booths displaying verses and beautiful words written on red paper sheets and paper rolls. Nearly 60 calligraphers, mainly young people, will "give" the words. The visitors come here, take the words and gift the calligraphers some money, but avoid mentioning "buying" or "selling" in order that the transaction is not commercialized. The calligraphers dress like ong do, an archaic address for people who passed academic exams under the old imperial regime in Vietnam. These people usually became teachers and were adept in … [Read more...] about Writings and drawings draw thousands to a Saigon street