Lookatvietnam – Residents of Ha Noi and HCM City flocked to pagodas en masse to pray for good luck and happiness on the first days of Lunar New Year despite chilling temperatures.
Fireworks light up the sky at Nhan Mountain in the province of Phu Yen on New Year’s Eve.
Women perform in the Spring Festival at Thang Long Citadel, Ha Noi.
Visiting calligraphers during Tet has been popular for the past few years. Van Mieu Street is now called “the Street of Caligraphers”.
Visitors throng HCM City’s Nguyen Hue Road to see the floral decorations during New Year holidays.
Phuc Khanh, Quan Su and Tran Quoc pagodas, as well as Quan Thanh Temple in Ha Noi have been filled with prayers since the first day of the Year of the Buffalo. Visitors from other provinces were also seen at Ha Noi’s pagodas.
“I like visiting pagodas to pray for peace for my family,” said Nguyen Thi Thuan, 86.
“The clean slate provided by the first days of New Year give me the strong belief that God will hear my prayers.”
In HCM City, the old pagodas seemed as busy during New Year days as the city life itself. Giac Lam, Vinh Nghiem, Xa Loi and Ngoc Hoang pagodas were most visited.
During the first three days of the new year, Dam Sen and Suoi Tien entertainment parks in HCM City received about 600,000 visitors.
Huynh Dong Tuan, deputy director of Suoi Tien said most of the visitors were HCM City residents, with the remainder coming from the neighbouring provinces of Tay Ninh, Binh Duong and Dong Nai.
Though people were affected by the financial crisis, tourist expenditures remained the same in the park as in previous years, he said.
Dai Nam tourist area in Binh Duong Province and Ba Den in Tay Ninh Province also received large number of tourists on the new year days.
In Ha Noi, due to the freezing temperatures taxi service was in such high demand that many customers needs could not be met.
“I had to wait for more than an hour but could not catch a taxi, so I had to travel by motorbike in the chill,” claimed Phuong Anh, a Ha Noi resident.
A taxi driver admitted he had promised to transport his wife to visit relatives, he could not since receive too many orders that he usually could not refuse.
Tet feast: different ingredients, same meaning
Despite differences in taste and shape, typical Tet feasts enjoyed in the three regions of the country all have one thing in common- the aim of expressing gratitude to the ancestors.
In northern areas, the traditional feast at Tet typically includes dried pigskin soup, a soup made with chicken gizzards and vermicelli, a soup of trotters and bamboo shoots and a bowl of sticky rice.
Northern families will also be tucking into braised carp and salted pickled scallion heads.
Residents living in the southern areas of the country will be salivating at the prospect of enjoying a traditional feast that includes braised pork and egg in coconut milk, or snake-head fish and a bitter melon soup.
Hue food is typical for the central region. During Tet, Hue residents often have banh tet (a roll made of sticky rice, green beans and pork), vegetable pickles and thit dam (steemed beef or pig head pickled in fish sauce plus sugar).
Tet usually begins on the last day of the last month of the lunar calendar. However, the feast is generally prepared in the early part of the month.
Despite her advanced age, Ha Noi resident Nguyen Thi Hanh still instructs her children and grandchildren in cooking a Tet feast the Hanoian way. For example, she insists on using a special kind of steamed glutinous rice and a young rooster for the feast.
After praying to their ancestors, the whole family along with neighbours sit together to eat, sharing in the cordiality of the Tet festival and giving each other best wishes. Everyone who lives or works away from home makes every effort to return home for the Lunar New Year.
“I feel eager and look forward to coming back home,” said Trieu Quoc Lap, an overseas Vietnamese living in the Czech Republic. Lap, who has lived in the Czech Republic for the last 20 years, returns to Viet Nam every year with his family to visit relatives, friends and enjoy the food of the homeland.
Tet generally ends on the third day of the Lunar New Year, but some families celebrate until the fifth day. Another feast is then prepared to offer to the ancestors and to signify the end of Tet.
The ingredients of the traditional Tet feast have changed over the years, but the meaning remains constant in the minds of the Vietnamese people.