As the bolero (Vietnamese ballad) resonates against the spring breeze, Vietnamese people amble their steps into the biggest holiday of the year: Tet (or Lunar New Year). Ask any residents or even expats who live in the country for several years and you will be guided through a traditional holiday full of festivities, stories and delicacies. However, beyond such joyful ambience, Tet also signifies precious traits of Vietnamese people: their family-oriented culture and preservation of family values through generations.
Let’s take a quick trip to Saigon, the financial hub of Vietnam and where ASW Global calls home to three offshoring offices, to understand how Tet looks (and feels) like.
Here come the festivity and celebration
Starting from February 5th, many countries enter Year of the Pig – the twelfth and final sign in the Asian zodiacs. Therefore, this year is the closure when we learn lessons, reap rewards and get ready for a new 12-year cycle. As pig is the symbol of wealth and fortune, 2019 is also expected to be the perfect year for investment, development and prosperity.
A bustling and energetic city, Saigon has its own way to celebrate Tet holiday. For a week, all main streets will be flamboyantly decorated with themed flower showdown, statues and colourful lights. Most Saigonese people and tourists gather in the centre to appreciate exotic tropical flowers and wish everyone good luck.
In addition, Tet is the rare occasion that you could glimpse into the golden past of Saigon, when the city was praised as the “Pearl of the Orient”. Tet markets are reconstructed with local delicacies and traditional games (fish fighting, crickets fighting, Vietnamese hopscotch…). People put on traditional clothes and enjoy such pastimes as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Just make sure your heart doesn’t skip a beat when you run into young, nice ladies in tailored “ao dai” (Vietnamese traditional dress)!
Get-togethers will also be a common sight prior and during Tet holiday. Companies hold year-end parties to celebrate a successful year and boost everyone’s spirit for the whole new journey to come. Friends and colleagues catch up with each other as they are temporarily free from busy routine. At ASW Vietnam, we also held such a cosy and exciting Tet party in which we managed to encourage our Founder and CEO – Mr. Joe and some Australian clients to try on “ao dai”.
Time for family gathering
Prior to Tet, there is an interesting tradition happening only in big cities like Saigon. Tens of thousands of people wrap up luggage and join the greatest “human migration” in Vietnam as they travel back to their hometown for the week-long holiday. No matter how crowded, expensive or time-consuming the journey is, coming back home for Tet is the biggest wish in the mindset of every Vietnamese person. This stems from the family-oriented culture in which family is the most important value in life. This also explains why Vietnamese employees love stability, balance at work and rarely quit jobs to move away: they can stay near, earn income and take care for their nuclear or extended family.
Putting all worries aside, Tet is the perfect time for relatives and members to gather, catch up and maintain family traditions. These could be passing down stories from grandparents, cooking Tet dishes together or praying for ancestors. It is a big honour for visitors, should they be invited to a family dinner during the holiday. It is like you are no longer a stranger in the land, but a part of the precious traditions, carefully preserved through generations.
Therefore, if you have a chance, don’t hesitate to visit Saigon, Vietnam during Tet holiday. The festive season surely awards you a refreshing, lucky and smooth start for the whole new year. This could be an opportunity to understand more about the land, the people and the culture. Who knows, you may fall in love with this beautiful tropical country like ASW Global team did several years ago.