Monday, January 23, 2012

A New Year has started

It's the end of one year and a new one has just started today here in Vietnam; it's officially spring now.

Everywhere looks so lovely, colorful and spring-like in the leadup to Tet and during Tet. The pavements of several streets in Hoi An are covered with pot plants for sale that are to brighten up a home and bring good luck. Most of blooms are shades of yellow. The golds represent coins and if you have a golden-coloured plant you should be prosperity over the following year. No matter how poor someone is they will buy a golden-yellow flowering plant.

The busiest day is the day before Tet when many have got some time off. It's hard to move through the traffic with the hundreds purchasing plants on this day. But also many just go to see the beautiful flowers and bushes and not to purchase. It's a pleasurable evening activity leading up to Tet. By late evening of new years eve all the plants have been sold or cleared away the pavements scubbed down.

Day one of New Year or Tet is the day you spend with close family, so today the town and streets were almost abandoned as most people were at home with relatives.

As today is the day to be with close family, that includes their nearest and dearest deceased relatives. Everyone who can manage it goes to their graves to take flowers and food for them and to talk to them about the year just passed; they tell the good news and the bad news. One friend told me she is never too sure whether to give the good news or the bad news first and her decision varies from year to year.

Day two is the day you visit friends mainly, but also relatives who live further afield. On this day there are many accidents as there is much drinking and merriment. As motorbikes are the main form of transport everyone is driving from one friend or relative to another and mainly in an intoxicated state. It is the males who drink and the males who drive the motorbikes on this day. This is a day to avoid being on the streets!

I am doing Tet in reverse. I can do that as I am a westerner. I had a lovely day visited my close western friends. It was quiet and safe on the roads and tomorrow I will be home while it is busy and dangerous on the roads.

Today wasa good start to the year; the weather was good, the plants in the courtyards and on front door steps looked so bright and chearful, and it was special to see many good friends in one day, and one at a time.

Chuc mung nam moi! (Happy new year)

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