Tet (Lunar New Year) is always an interesting experience for foreigners in Vietnam. Enjoying the Tet atmosphere, foreign ambassadors have shared their feelings about the biggest traditional festival in the country.
Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo said Tet is a traditional festival of the Vietnamese and Chinese people, and the two countries’ Tet celebrations are highly similar. Whenever the Lunar New Year comes, the Tet atmosphere will spread across Hanoi, from big streets to small alleys, bringing about close and familiar feelings to him through similar customs: family reunion in year-end parties and New Year visits to pagodas.
However, there are also some differences as 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit in China but the Year of the Cat in Vietnam, he added.
The rich histories and special traditional cultures of China and Vietnam have contributed to the Eastern culture and civilisation. Likewise, New Year celebration customs in Japan and the Republic of Korea are also part of the Eastern culture, and it is necessary to treasure and further bring into play the role of the Eastern culture in the world's civilisation, according to the diplomat.
2023 is the second year Nikorndej Balankura serves as the ambassador of Thailand to Vietnam. He said Tet is a confluence of traditional culture and modern society, and that he sees it's a very special time of a year where people are very joyful.
He noted similarities in New Year celebrations between the two countries. The Thai New Year, called Songkran, is in April, but it is also a time of the year when people in his country pay respect to the elders, go on vacation, and meet friends.
Echoing the view, Philippine Ambassador Meynardo Los Banos Montealegre said of all the Vietnamese occasions, Tet has been most striking for him because of the deep importance of this holiday to the Vietnamese.
It reflects the value of family and friends, tradition and culture as it is still the centre to every Vietnamese individual despite the aspiration of Vietnam to be a modern society.
Like Christmas, the Tet holiday is the occasion for everyone in Vietnam to look back at their life for the past year and value the inspiration and sacrifices of their ancestors, families and friends throughout the years, and to be revitalised and inspired to start anew and strive for a better year, Montealegre said.
According to New Zealand Ambassador Tredene Dobson, what she really loves about Tet is the feeling of warmth, the feeling of love and connectivity - particularly with families as they come together at this special time. This is very similar to the spirit of the Christmas season in New Zealand.
She added this will be her second Tet in Vietnam, and she loves all the dishes that come out during Tet. “Last year, I got to try out a lot of new Tet foods so I'm hoping to even expand that further this Tet."
Venezuelan Ambassador Tatiana Pugh Moreno described Tet as a fascinating festival for people in the West, noting she is happy to welcome the Lunar New Year and festive activities in the most beautiful season of the year in Hanoi and Vietnam as a whole.
Tet is an occasion to gear toward family values and make plans for the New Year. It is also an occasion to taste banh chung (square glutinous rice cake), decorate the embassy and private home to ring in the New Year, the diplomat went on.
For his part, Algerian Ambassador Boubazine Abdelhamid said he arrived in Vietnam right on the New Year 2023, which is followed by the Vietnamese traditional New Year (Tet) festival.
Through this special time, he realised the close attachment of the Vietnamese people to their traditional culture that has been developed over centuries. Tet is an occasion for the Vietnamese people to show the strong bond with their families and the strong connections among generations, and more deeply, the remembrance of their roots, said Ambassador Abdelhamid.
Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador Gennady Bezdetko shared the view that the Lunar New Year is a special occasion connected with the history and traditional culture of the Vietnamese people.
Tet is the time for family gatherings, meetings between friends, visits to teachers, review of the previous year and making of future plans, and it is associated with interesting customs and rituals. The festival features many interesting traditions, customs, and rituals, making it colourful, attractive, and full of positive emotions, he opined.
On this occasion, the ambassadors also offered greetings to the Vietnamese leaders and people, wishing that in the New Year, the country will reap even greater achievements in socio-economic development.