Today, January 31st in the Gregorian calendar, is the first and most important day of the Lunar New Year or Tết. This biggest-holiday-in-Vietnam is spent with close and extended family, where time is enjoyed together and blessings for the future are made.
2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse, a symbol of energy, intelligence and success. This year is considered a time for fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is also an excellent year for travel (gotta love that!), and the further off the beaten path, the better.
I started this auspicious day off right…with a yummy cà phê sữa đá! Click here if you want to learn how make this famous Vietnamese iced milk coffee at home!
After breakfast at the historic Continental Hotel, I took a stroll around Nguyen Hue St. and soaked in a little of the first day of Tết festivities.
Families were in full swing, sporting new clothes and posing in front of an abundance of vivid Tết decorations and flowers.
During Tết, the city is so much quieter, with many gone to their hometowns to celebrate the new year. So many fewer motos, but I did catch this one…
Vietnamese people believe that a lion dance performance on the first day of the Lunar New Year will make the year a prosperous one. It is very often mistaken (I’m guilty!) for a dragon dance. In a lion dance, you do not normally see the performer’s face as they are inside the lion and it is most often performed by two people. In a dragon dance, there can be many performers and you see their faces as the dragon is held on poles. The lion dance is accompanied by synchronized drums, cymbals and gongs. I found these lions prancing outside our apartment building! Here is a tiny snippet of their dance so that you, too, can have a lucky year:
To think of Tết simply as a New Year celebration would miss the mark completely. It is a very special occasion lasting officially for four days (although many celebrate for two weeks!) that are filled with tradition and special family time. It is also a time when the Vietnamese people celebrate their culture and share a common goal of peace and love.
Saigon LOVE and Chúc Mừng Năm Mới to you and yours, Lisa