|Words in Vietnamese-Chinese script could be written in many different ways.
Since the very old days, whenever spring arrives and a new year begins, people have looked to scholarly intellectuals who are masters of calligraphy to draw meaningful words or sets of words to display in their homes. Word-seekers often look to improve the academic fortunes of their children.
Calligraphy festivals have become an indispensable spring activity for Vietnamese people. These festivals often take place at Hanoi’s Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, now a worshiping place dedicated to Confucius and nationally honored scholars.
Each calligraphy word bears a special meaning and wishes for a blessed lunar new year. Words are chosen to match people’s desires for their lives.
"Other scholars and I often gather at Hanoi’s Temple of Literature to practice calligraphy in the spring, in the hope of promoting our beautiful national custom of word asking and granting for a blessed new lunar year. The most popular words are 'Longevity', 'Blessing', 'Studious' for students, and 'Smooth' for businesses," said scholar Chu Van Thinh.
Calligrapher Nguyen Nhu Phach said, "The words are said to connect the writer’s mind and the word-seeker’s heart. When people ask for words, they ask not only for luck but also for the kindness and the talent of the calligraphers to remind them to lead a good life."
Students prefer to ask for words like “Intelligence”, “Wisdom” or “Achievement”, while older people often choose words like “Peace” or “Blessing”.
"I ask for a different word each year. The words reflect my hopes and wishes for my family and myself in the new year. The first year I asked for the word 'Wisdom', and then 'Blessing', and then 'Luck'. Last year I asked for 'Career', as I wanted to change my job. And this year I asked for 'Prosperity'," said Do Ngoc Long, who lives in Hanoi's Gia Lam district.
The words are written on red poonah paper, bamboo, wooden boards, or on ceramic items of all sizes. Spring calligraphy festivals nationwide attract thousands of people who want lucky words for the New Year.