Regardless of what you call it - there’s a big celebration going on over here in this half of the world. Technically its Lunar New Year however it’s referred to as Chinese New Year unless of course you are in Vietnam where it’s called Tet. I guess the Vietnamese didn’t want to partner with China on this most important holiday. Regardless, I’m walking around saying Happy New Year again in some weird sort of deja vu. Being a Westerner in Asia certainly makes for a long, long holiday season; November to February.
This is the holiday that puts Asia in motion; so much motion that it makes American Thanksgiving look like a toy train set. I have been watching Ho Chi Minh City residents prepare for the holiday with great interest. Tet is a huge celebration lasting three to four days. Families save money, store food, and plan far in advance for Tet. The Vietnamese take extreme care to start the New Year out right. They buy new clothes, paint and clean their homes, cook three days worth of food, pay off all debts and make amends to rid themselves of all bad feelings.
I have been watching my landlady gear up for the Lunar New Year for the last two weeks. I came outside and one day there were stacks of cases of beer and soda and she was busily putting up the plastic yellow flowers all over the front of her windows and doors. Shortly thereafter I noticed that she and all of her female friends/relatives were putting together huge baskets of gifts in her ‘living room’. I had no idea why they needed so many until one day I saw her out at the front of our alley selling these big baskets full of food, fireworks, and soda/beer to passer-bys. There’s one thing that I’ve learned about Vietnamese women; they are extremly hard working and they all multitask with amazing agility. My landlady has about 5 different jobs including ‘running’ her family.
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