How Vietnamese Students Celebrated Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year, also known as Tet in Vietnamese, is considered the biggest holiday in Vietnam. In fact, there is no specific date for this holiday as it is determined by the lunar calendar. This year, Lunar New Year's Day falls on January 22. To celebrate Tet, Vietnamese international students usually hold warm meetings. And 2023 is the 7th year Vietnamese students at HSE in Moscow organized a year-end party. This is an occasion for everyone to gather and share with each other about the past as well as exchange good wishes for the coming new year. So what is in this year's meeting?
There is a specially decorated photo booth in the event venue. Indeed, the organizers have been very successful when bringing the whole atmosphere of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam to Moscow. The first noteworthy thing is the background of the photo booth with two colors - yellow and red which are typical colors of Tet in Vietnam. According to Vietnamese culture, yellow symbolizes wealth and prosperity, while red is the color of warmth and luck. Therefore, during the Tet holidays, it is easy to see these two colors on the streets of Vietnam.
In addition, there are some branches of peach blossoms, a distinctive flower of Tet. There is an interesting legend of the peach blossom tree that explains why Vietnamese people love it a lot. Once upon a time in Vietnam, there was a peach blossom tree with unusually huge branches and shade covering a large area. There were two gods residing on this giant peach blossom tree. They root out evil spirits and help people in the area to have a peaceful and happy life. Terrified by the great power of the two gods, the ghosts and devils were also fearful of the peach tree. Just seeing the peach blossom branch, they immediately get scared and run away. However, on the last day of the year, like other gods, the two gods of a peach tree have to go to heaven to attend the Jade Emperor's audience. And the demons take the advantage of this time to lord it over people.
In order to prevent the devils from harassing them, people have come up with the idea of breaking peach blossom branches and arranging them in vases. Since then, before the Lunar New Year’s day, every family has tried to take peach blossom branches and put them in the house to exorcise evil spirits. Today, peach branches still appear in every Vietnamese house on the occasion of Tet, but its meaning is far different from the old custom. Peach blossoms are now a sign of longevity, vitality, and youth. Its beauty has brought warmth to every home, sowing in everyone's heart joy, faith, love, and hope for a wonderful new year to come.
Remarkably, the traditional Vietnamese teapot and thermos were also brought into this small photo booth. The cup of tea represents the principle of "When you drink water, think of its source" – respect for the previous generation. In the Tet atmosphere, the cup of tea is like a rope connecting people closer. Drinking tea is a way to harmonize with heaven and earth on New Year's Day. On this occasion, Vietnamese families will buy the best quality teas to celebrate guests and the new year. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that drinking tea has become a custom of Vietnamese people during the New Year holidays.
Luong Thi Hai Yen
senior of the HSE Bachelor’s Programme in International Relations
– This is my fifth year in Russia and also my fifth year away from home. Because the Lunar New Year is not an official Russian holiday, I still have to go to school and cannot return to Vietnam to celebrate Tet with my family. Therefore, on every Tet like this, I feel rather sad because you know, Tet is an occasion of reunion. However, I also feel a little proud of myself. I realize how strong and fortunate I have been for the past 4 years as I have had the opportunity to experience many things in a foreign country on my own. I hope to travel to more places in Russia this year and experience more new things here.
Nguyen Quoc Phong
senior of the HSE Bachelor’s Programme in World Economy
– This year, I feel half happy and half sad. I am glad that next year I will be able to celebrate Tet with my family. And I am also sad because this is my last year to celebrate Tet in Russia. The past 4 years have been a beautiful journey for me. I have traveled to many cities in Russia and made new friends, not only Vietnamese friends but also Russians and friends from other countries. I am very much looking forward to the coming new year. I do not know what will happen in 2023, but I believe it will certainly be a great and memorable year.
Pham Hoang Anh
a first-year graduate student of the HSE Master's programme in International Management
– This year is my first year celebrating Tet in Russia. It is not as bad as I thought. Everyone is so enthusiastic that I do not feel too sad and lost. Although Tet in Russia is not as bustling as in Vietnam, but look, peach branches. It is really "Tet", isn't it? Moreover, banh chung is quite delicious. Before, I did not expect too much. People used to say that banh chung in Russia was not tasty because the pork filling was dry and bland. However, banh chung in this feast does make me very satisfied.