Happy Year of the Rat!

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Date: January 22nd 2020
Traveller: Carla Rijnders
Chuc Mung Nam Moi! Happy Lunar New Year (in Vietnamese).

25 January 2020 is the first day of Lunar New Year, called Tet in Vietnamese. The evening before, family is gathering to celebrate the turn of the year. They will say goodbye to the Year of the Pig and welcome the Year of the Rat. Since ancient times, Chinese people have been using the Chinese Zodiac animals to represent the years. Each lunar year is related to a zodiac animal, beginning at Chinese New Year. The 12 zodiac animals recur on a 12-year cycle. Vietnamese travel their country to gather with their family, cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are empty in these days!

Like in China, in Vietnam red is a lucky color, so giving money in a red envelope ('lucky money') is a way  of giving best wishes, as well as a financial present. Traditionally red envelopes money is called 'suppressing years money' . According to many New Year legends, evil spirits are scared of red, so red envelopes were originally used to suppress or ward off demons while giving money. These envelopes are given to anyone,  whether employer or family. There are lots of customs about who gives who how much in a red envelope. 

Vietnamese will dress in new clothes these days. It is believed that wearing new clothes from head to toe symbolizes a new start and fresh hopes for the New Year. They believe that New Year's Day sets the tone for the rest of the year, so everyone tries to dress well. This is also the reason why houses are cleaned and debts are paid of, to welcome the new year.

What do the do Dragon and Lion Dances at Chinese New Year mean? Dragon and lion dances are traditional performances for joyous festivals and big occasions to enhance festive atmosphere. It is traditionally believed that performing dragon or lion dances  is a way to pray for good luck and drive away evil spirits.

We wish everyone a very Happy New Lunar Year of the Rat. Chuc Mung Nam Moi!


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