What Normally Will Happen Before Tết Holiday?

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Yay! It is few more days before Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. Since I will share about my experience of celebrating Lunar New Year in Vietnam, I will change the terms by calling it Tết holiday. Living and grow in Malaysia makes me comparing about the celebration between Chinese in Malaysia and the Vietnamese. 

First of all, I have to mention that I am Muslim and Lunar New Year is not part of my inner culture. But then, since most of my friends are Chinese and I live in Vietnam (a Buddhist country) for quiet sometime, I can't deny that this occasion is part of my life experience too. 

One Month Before the Holiday, Saigon Version.
I can say, this is a very important month and the busiest too. Most of companies try to close all the deals before the long holiday. People also need to clear if there are any outstanding payment of debt before starting the new year. But then, two weeks before Tết, I can say, it is like an exceptional week for many workers. Productivity is lower, the workers more focus on spending for Tết and even listening to music in office. 

In unique cases, some of my Vietnamese friends will resign from current work just for the Tết holiday and will start to find a new job after new year. Optionally, 2 to 3 weeks leave is a common practice for local companies and maximum 7 days off is for foreign own companies. 

Shopping for Tết is really fun. You may choose to shop something branded from high end shopping mall such as Vincom Centre, Paragon or The Cresent or maybe just get something cheaper from the fashion shops along Nguyen Trai further to District 5. Shopping at night is really crazy. Bikes are everywhere, nice clothing displayed here and there, and you can feel that, holiday is coming soon and lets finish the shopping. 

Shopping is not only limited to clothing, but the same with electrical item as well as furniture. Well, what to grab? Of course a new karaoke set? Almost every southern people can sing. That is my opinion and so, having a set of karaoke player is a must especially during the the Tết holiday. Other electrical stuff maybe not so much, but most crowded electrical centre I can say is the Nguyen Kim Centre at Tran Hung Dao street, District 1. 

How about music? Other than having a karaoke set, there are some songs that really evergreen during Tết holiday in Vietnam. Songs like Ngay tet Que Em and Happy New Year by ABBA are among the famous one. You can even hear this song from each part of the town. From electrical shop, cafe or maybe a private house, this two song are among the must play during the occasion.. 

Riding bike or maybe walking at night in Saigon is really nice during the season. Beautiful lighting, flower decoration, flower streets and seeing local people taking photo at almost every beautiful display is really fun. Sometimes I wonder, when they took like 500 photos at one night, what will they do next (I mean to most of them?).

There are so many immigrants from other cities such as Danang, Can Tho, Hue are living in Saigon. So, one month before Tết, one of the must do item in their Tết checklist is buying plane or bus or whatever means of transport to go back to their hometown. In worst case, riding you own bike is an option too, but not that easy. A normal travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho City in Long An province will normally took about 2 to 3 hours on normal day, but during this Tết season, it can be up to 6 hour because there are so many... much... huge numbers of bikes on the street. Not to say, the police are standby here and there to make some extra money too. 

What mother, sisters and brother will do? Normally making cookies at home is not that common for the Vietnamese. But house cleaning is a must. Re-paint your gate and door's grill, changing a new curtain or maybe repairing some stuffs is more common to do before Tết. 

That's it! Celebrating Tết in Vietnamese is a beautiful memory for me. Stay tune as I will write more about my memory of Tet in Vietnam in my next blog entry. 


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