Adventures as Miss Saigon

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Posted on: February 5, 2011

Happy New Year! (again!)

Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, was celebrated at the beginning of February this year. It’s very much a family affair, with many preparations beginning weeks in advance. Special meals are cooked, houses are cleaned, families return back to their hometowns and the country pretty much comes to a complete standstill. There are a lot of “superstitions” surrounding this holiday, and I won’t pretend to understand them all! The Vietnamese mom I work for explained some of the traditions to me one afternoon, but there was a lot for me to remember!

For me, the things that have stood out are the brightly coloured decorations and the hustle and bustle of shoppers preparing for the holiday. Everywhere you turn, tree branches are covered in plastic yellow and pink flowers, store windows display yellow foam flowers, and there are Tết lights all over downtown! The decorations definitely make it feel like spring here! The stores have been incredibly busy – Lunar New Years is more like Christmas at home in terms of family time and preparations. I thought I had missed the Christmas rush that I’m used to at home, but instead it just comes 6 weeks later!

Wendy and I arrived back in HCMC on New Years Eve…our flight landed at the airport just before 10:30pm, and we hurried through customs and into a taxi to get downtown before midnight. Downtown was definitely busy! We headed to the area near Ben Thanh Market to get a good view of the midnight fireworks. The sides of the streets were a sea of parked motorbikes, with families sitting on or near them. It was a party atmosphere, complete with balloons, cotton candy and other assorted bicycle vendors. Near midnight, traffic seemed to come to a complete stop as people waited, watching the sky.

busy busy by Ben Thanh Market

fire truck fighting to get through

busy busy downtown!

There was no countdown, but at midnight the fireworks started. And soon after they started, many of the Vietnamese families started to leave! Wendy and I hung around for the duration of the show and walked back to find a taxi to take us home. Our Tết eve was complete!

fireworks, HCMC style!

streets clearing out and the show is not over

New Years Day was Thursday, but most shops and businesses are closed for a full week – they should open again on Monday. It’s been very strange being in a huge city that almost completely shuts down! I’m looking forward to the grocery store opening again…I have all this time off, but can’t do any of my normal routine things or get any real errands done.

Regardless, I look forward to celebrating Tết in Canada for years to come! And Cambodian New Years is only a month or two away! 🙂

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