Overseas Vietnamese celebrate Tet amid COVID-19

(VOVWORLD) - Tet, Vietnam’s traditional Lunar New Year holiday, celebrates the beginning of spring. For many overseas Vietnamese, the COVID-19 epidemic has made it impossible to return home for the traditional Tet family reunion. But, in any event, Tet is always an integral part of their life.
Overseas Vietnamese celebrate Tet amid COVID-19 - ảnh 1Nguyen Quoc Khanh, an OV in Hamburg,  Germany. (Photo: Anh Huyen)

Nguyen Quoc Khanh of Hamburg, Germany, is among many of the millions of OVs who have welcomed Tet far away from home for years because during this time of each year he still must go to work.

Over the past 29 years, no matter how busy he is, Khanh has arranged 1 or 2 days off to clean the house and prepare a 5-fruit tray and food offerings with popular dishes in Vietnam like Chung cakes, spring rolls, pork pies, confectionery, Tet jam, and even votive papers.

On New Year's Eve (Vietnam time), all Khanh’s family members get together and make phone calls to wish relatives and friends in Vietnam a happy new year.

Khanh told VOV, “We are not young any more and don’t have sensation of excitement when an old year is to be over and a new year is to come. But the nostalgia remains the same for each of us. The feeling particularly flares up when Tet arrives.”

“We keep organizing Tet thoroughly and consider it a way to educate the Vietnamese tradition for the younger generations. On New Year, I wish my family to have good health, happiness, and favorable works. The children will be obedient and do well in school. I do hope this year the weather will be good. The COVID-19 epidemic will be soon contained so that Vietnam will be prosperous and all over the world will be safe,” said Khanh.

Vu Hoang Anh has lived in Canada for 23 years but kept the custom of staying up late at night to ring in the New Year.

Every year all her family members wait for the transitional moment of the old and new year to toast each other a peaceful year.

Hoang Anh said she hopes Vietnam will suffer less natural disasters and epidemics this year.

“I feel sad not to be able to return home to celebrate Tet with relatives. All what I want in a new year is that the COVID-19 epidemic will be controlled. My relatives at home will be healthy, safe while the world will become peaceful and develop. I look forward to returning to Vietnam one day to visit across the nation,” said Hoang Anh.

Vietnamese students abroad are also awaiting Tet.

Tran Thanh Tung who is studying in Germany said he already had two Tet far from home. This year due to the COVID-19 epidemic and as a senior student, Tung couldn’t go home for Tet celebration.

Tung and his friends have prepared for the traditional holiday with some going shopping and others cleaning the house or cooking.  

“There are many reasons for overseas students not to return to Vietnam for traditional Lunar New Year celebrations. This year it’s mainly due to the coronavirus epidemic. Second it’s often costly. Westerners don’t have Lunar New Year like in Vietnam so during Tet we still have to go to school or work normally,” Tung added.

“Actually all OVs remember the Lunar New Year taste and desire to return to motherland for family get-together, reunite with the family at the year-end meal. It is also one of the beautiful cultural characteristics of Vietnamese people.”

Overseas Vietnamese celebrate Tet amid COVID-19 - ảnh 2Ngoc Bich. (Photo: Anh Huyen)

Ngoc Bich, a student in the Netherlands, said she often feels most homesick after the year-end meal wraps up when the room-mates come back to their rooms.  

“Students studying abroad for the first time probably feel missing when welcoming a Tet without relatives by their side. Although I’m not an emotionally fragile person, I cannot help but feel touched during the New Year's Eve moments. But then we have to get used to it for the future."