Saigon, in Full Bloom

 “May your income be as great as Da River, and your expenses as little as dripping coffee”, one of several traditional Vietnamese New Year greetings)

Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet, is by far the most important holiday in Vietnam, as it is in China and other countries with a Chinese cultural heritage. This weeklong holiday is a time of joy and new beginnings. People here work really hard and for many Vietnamese who have come to Saigon or other large cities to work, Tet is one of the few times when they can return to their families living in other provinces.

Saigon and other large Vietnamese cities often feel frenzied and chaotic, and this joyful holiday is a rare time when the frantic pace of everyday life pauses. Saigon’s chronically congested streets are relatively free of cars. Families and friends gather for meals or card games in front of their homes. The air is full of music and new year’s wishes. On my long walk in a scenic residential area of the city on lunar new year’s day many strangers said hello or wished me happy new year.

Tet is mostly a family holiday and there are relatively few public events. The most prominent exceptions are probably the flower festivals here in Saigon and in other Vietnamese cities. In Saigon the main flower exhibits are on Nguyen Hue St. (a wide promenade in the heart of the central district), Tao Dan Park near my apartment and Phu My Hung (a very new area of the city with modern shopping centers and many expat residents).

The photos of the Nguyen Hue St. and Tao Dan Park flower festivals are my own, and were taken during the current Tet holiday. Phu My Hung is far from my apartment and I wasn’t able to go this year but I included a couple photos from the internet for comparison.

Nguyen Hue St.

“May you find a new lover in the coming year”, another traditional Vietnamese New Year greeting (for single people)

Tao Dan Park

 

Phu My Hung District (the three photos below are not my own)

“Eat more, and grow rapidly”, another traditional Vietnamese New Year greeting (for children)

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