Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy New Year!

Vietnamese New Year, that is!

Tet, which means the first morning of the first day of the new year, is the Vietnamese New Year. The celebration lasts for 7 days. Like the Chinese, the Lunar New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays.
Rat for Vietnamese New Year Tet 2008 is the Year of the Rat or Mouse. Specifically this is the year of the Brown (or Earth) Rat. This year is special as it marks the beginning of the 12 month cyclical zodiac of animals.
Officially, the national holiday of Tet lasts for three days. However, in practice it is closer to a week or ten days, as many celebrations occur before this date in the south of Viet Nam and after this date in the north of Viet Nam.
Tet dates for upcoming years are: Buffalo 2009 January 26, Tiger 2010 February 14, Cat 2011 February 3, Dragon 2012 January 23, Snake 2013 February 10.
*Some of the information above comes from Adopt Vietnam's website.  If you would like to read more about the Tet celebration, or find resources to use to help you study Tet, please click HERE

Traditionally, each family displays a New Year Tree called cây nêu, consisting of a bamboo pole 5 to 6 m long. The top end is usually decorated with many objects, depending on the locality, including good luck charms, origami fish, cactus branches, etc.
*Above information from Wikipedia (as well as picture at right).

In Vietnam, the calendar was devised based on the regularly changing phases of the moon. Most Vietnamese, even city dwellers and overseas Vietnamese, have a lunar calendar in their homes to consult for festivals and auspicious dates. Because of the use of the lunar calendar, the actual days of the New Year vary from year to year.

The equinoxes and solstices that marked the beginning of the European seasons were taken as the midpoint by the Asian calendar with the result that each Vietnamese season begins six weeks earlier than its European counterpart.

Each year is "sponsored" sequentially by one of the twelve animals of the Vietnamese zodiac: the rat comes first, then the buffalo or ox, followed in order by the tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog, and lastly, the pig. Of these animals one is mythical (the dragon) and four (rat, tiger, snake and monkey) are wild, shunning contact with humans. Seven are domesticated. Every twelve years, the sponsorship reverts to the same animal. For example, the years 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 are dragon years.

*Above information from Lunar New Year, Vietnam Style.  If you would like to learn more about the Vietnam Zodiac, and find out what each animal represents, click HERE then click on the rat to learn more about this coming year and the people born during the year of the rat;  or pick your animal of choice.  FYI:  My Gracie was born during the year of  the Dragon, and Ian the Dog.  (Funny, it says the two are non-compatible!)

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