Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity

(VOVWORLD) - Today is the last day of the Year of the Cat. For every Vietnamese person, no matter where they are or what job they do, Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is a special time to rest, return to one’s homeland, see relatives, talk about the past year, and exchange best wishes for the new year. Tet is not only a time to strengthen family bonds, but a time to forge closer community ties and foster one’s Vietnamese cultural identity.

Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 1On the last day of the Lunar New Year, at the railway station, the train poured out of the stations, taking the last passengers back to their hometowns. Illustration photo:

MC: On the last day of the Lunar New Year, buses and trains poured out of the stations, taking the last passengers back to their hometowns to reunite with their families just in time for New Year’s Eve.

“I just finished work so I can go home today. Returning home to meet my grandmother makes feel happy every Tet and Spring holiday. My family is very excited to welcome Tet as our work is going well.”

“I'm eager and looking forward to getting on the bus to go home for Tet. Going home is more fun than staying here. Everyone here has gone home. My son is extremely happy.”

“I want to go home quickly to reunite with my family and have fun. I am so excited because I’ll get to see my relatives and my two younger siblings. We help each other clean and decorate our house beautifully.”

Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 2Although society is becoming more modern, the flavors of traditional Tet and cultural values are reserved in every home. Illustration photo:

MC: A Hanoian named Mr. An, 84, has welcomed home his grandson from abroad to celebrate Tet. His home is filled with reunion vibes.

“What I remember most is the feeling of togetherness, warm family affection, the anticipation of New Year's Eve... After the New Year's Eve meal, I waited to watch the Kitchen God program. Grandparents prepared an offering tray in the yard and lucky money envelopes. All these things are missed so much when one is away from home. In foreign countries, even though there are all kinds of Tet specialties like square sticky rice cakes, spring rolls, and fireworks, it’s impossible to recreate this feeling.”

MC: Taking photos with family members is a custom of Mr. An's family that has been maintained for decades. Instead of using personal phones or cameras, he hires a photographer to come to his house to ensure that each shot captures the moment with the best quality.

“The best and most exciting time to take photos is the afternoon of the last day of the lunar year. Photos of the big family, of grandparents with their sons, daughters, and grandchildren. It’s fun. Every year I enlarge a photo of my extended family to hang up as a timeless recollection.”

MC: For Mr. An, the photos hanging in his living room are a source of pride and proof of his family’s unity.

“Before Tet, I always call my children and grandchildren and remind them to burn incense and worship the ancestors after a year of hard work. What's more important is to spend warm Tet moments together, educate our children about our roots, and cultivate sacred family bonds.”

Although society is becoming more modern, the character of traditional Tet lingers in every Vietnamese home.

Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 3Wrapping banh chung in Duong Lam ancient village. Photo: VOV

MC: Tet is not only an opportunity to strengthen family bonds, but also a chance to foster neighborly relations and cultivate Vietnamese identity. As a Tet custom, many households in Thanh My commune, Son Tay town, cut up pork and divide it into portions. If the pig is big, several households may agree to share it. The purpose of sharing meat is to demonstrate unity and prosperity.

MC: This year Mr. My's family slaughtered a 65-kilogram pig. The meat and bones were divided equally among the households. Part of the meat was used to make banh chung (square sticky rice cakes) and the rest was used for other Tet dishes.

“Every year my family raises a pig and then eats the pig during the new year feast. I’m excited to see everyone gathered to share meat, wrap sticky rice cakes, and have fun. I maintain this custom by organizing a cozy Tet feast and letting my children and grandchildren observe their ancestors’ traditions.”

Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 4Jumping on bamboo poles in Duong Lam ancient village. Photo: VOV

MC: A few kilometers from Thanh My, in the ancient village of Duong Lam, the village gate, Mong Phu communal house, and ancient houses have been decorated with pots of Tet flowers, branches of peach blossoms, and parallel sentences.

“I’m reliving the days of my childhood. I clearly remember playing folk games and making Chung cakes.”

“I used to follow my mother to the market to shop for Tet. In the past, Tet was not as abundant as it is now. It was poorer, but Tet still has the same games and Chung cakes.”

“Everything is new to me. Every year I go shopping with my parents for Tet, but always in shopping centers or supermarkets. That’s why I came here. I like it very much.

MC: The communal house yard is filled with Tet activities – making Chung cakes, lion and dragon dances, To he (toy figurine) making, and scholars writing Chinese scripts and parallel sentences. Folk games like cockfighting and blindfolded pot smashing are an integral part of Vietnamese Tet. Every game provokes laughter throughout the village.

MC: The ancient beauty of the hundred-year-old village harmonized with artistic creative spaces helps spread the typical cultural characteristics of Vietnamese Tet.                               
Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 5Vietnamese women in France eagerly took Tet photos. Photo: Anh Tuan/VOV

MC: The character of Vietnamese Tet is being preserved by Vietnamese communities at home and abroad.

This chicken dish is made with fish sauce, lemongrass, and chili, which are all popular flavors in Vietnam. Whenever I miss Vietnam, I make this dish. I also make Chung cakes. On Lunar New Year Eve, I call my parents to feel less homesick.

MC: That was LeTrung Tinh, who is studying and working in Japan. To create a community Tet atmosphere, young Vietnamese in Japan gather in small groups, cook traditional dishes, and eat them together.


MC: 39-year-old Nguyen Thanh Hang is married and has lived in Beijing for more than a decade. When she can’t return to Vietnam for Tet, she always cooks a lot of Vietnamese dishes.

“I always prepare Vietnamese food like Chung cakes, pork pies, and fermented pork rolls for Tet. When Tet is near, I also make spring rolls, because everyone in my husband's family likes them.”

MC: It has become a Spring tradition for members of the Association for the Promotion of Vietnamese Culture to gather at City Hall in the 20th arrondissement in Paris to celebrate Tet together. This year’s program includes unicorn dancing, martial arts, Tet food, and Vietnamese long dress (ao dai) demonstrations.

Nguyen Duc Diane Thu Dung, President of the Association for the Promotion of Vietnamese Culture, says the program attracts a large number of overseas Vietnamese and their French friends.

"I’ve never had a chance to participate in a traditional Tet celebration in Vietnam. Organizing a Tet celebration in Paris allowed us to experience the Tet atmosphere. People dressed up and were excited, which made us, the organizers, very happy."

Lunar New Year fosters Vietnamese identity - ảnh 6Le Thi Thuy Linh, member of the Khmer-Vietnamese Association of Siem Reap province in Cambodia. Photo: VOV

MC: The Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia held a get-together in Phnom Penh to welcome the Lunar New Year 2024 for Overseas Vietnamese from across Cambodia.

Le Thi Thuy Linh, a member of the Khmer-Vietnam Association in Siem Reap province, said: “I enjoy the music performances, the traditional Vietnamese Tet dishes, and the opportunity to talk with Vietnamese from other provinces and cities in Cambodia. It’s a joy to celebrate Tet in Cambodia.”

MC: The Lunar New Year festival is the biggest Vietnamese festival. It is a sacred moment of transition between the old year and the new year. Over the years, many customs and traditions have faded, but the cultural beauty of Tet is still alive today.