If you follow the Vietnamese lunar calender, today is new years eve! 2011 was the year of the cat, and starting from tomorrow 2012 is the year of the dragon.
I’m not celebration Tet this year, as I have to study today, but my Vietnamese relatives in Denmark always celebrate with a big party. First they make offerings to our ancestors. They have a small shrine where pictures of deceased relatives are places, including a picture of my mom. Everyone greets the ancestors by bowing three times in front of the shrine, with a light incense stick. I’m pretty sure there’s also a prayer, but the fact is I’m not so familiar with the traditions. I have only been to 2 traditional Tet celebrations as an adult. When we were children we lived too far away from the rest of out Vietnamese relatives, so we just celebrated at home with great food.
One tradition I’ve known about from childhood is the red envelopes. You sit down in front of the ones who are older than you, one/one couple at the time. You greet them by thanking them for the year that has past, and share your wishes for them in the year to come. They will reply with wishes for you in the next year, and end by giving you a red envelope with a symbolic amount of money inside. Being a child you are mostly focusing on the money, but as I’ve grown older I actually find this part quite beautiful. How often do you actually take your time to thank people, and share your future wishes for them? Not enough I say.
Happy lunar new year everybody! I’ll be celebrating with leftovers and homework!
//The pictures are from New Year 2011.