Fix Holidays Lunar New Year

To The Vietnamese, Tet Is A Spiritual Time

Vu Quang Anh / youthjournalism.org

 

Thousands of Vietnamese visit Huang Pagoda each year during Tet.

 

 
By Vu Quang Anh
Junior Reporter
HANOI, Vietnam – Many people know Tet, the
Vietnamese Lunar New Year, as a conventional New-Year-like holiday that is
identified by customs like giving presents to children, spending time with
families and eating traditional food.
However, unlike the Western New Year, Tet,
which ended earlier this month, also has a great religious significance for
Vietnamese people and includes a plenty of religious and spiritual traditions.
Tet religious customs are all about asking
for luck and happiness in the upcoming year.
The Vietnamese believe that what they do
during this holiday can affect their lives in the New Year, and some traditions
are practiced even before the holiday. One of them is the worshipping of the
Apple Spirit. The Apple spirit is believed to be assigned by God to keep track
of all the things going on in human houses.
It is said that each year on December 23rd
of the Lunar Calendar, the Apple spirit reports to God about what has happened
in a certain house throughout the previous year and God then decides whether to
reward or to penalize the homeowners.
On that day people would clean their houses
and practice a ritual in which they ask the Apple Spirit to report good things
about them to God so that they would be blessed in the upcoming year.
Tet’s Eve is probably the time when most
religious traditions can be observed. It is believed that the family’s life in
the upcoming year depends on what kind of person comes into the house first
after the beginning of a new year.
If that person has positive qualities such as
wealth and success, the family will also be blessed with these qualities. But
if the person is a negative one, a bad year will be waiting for the family.
Most families don’t want to take risks and
usually send their own member out just before the midnight of the New Year and
he or she comes back after the New Year has officially begun, becoming the
first person to step into the house of that particular family. That way,
families don’t have to worry about their future because they already know what
kind of person is going to come into their houses first. This tradition is
called in Vietnamese
xông nhà.
The most important
religious custom of Tet which can be seen before, throughout and even after the
holiday is visiting pagodas.
Vu Quang Anh / youthjournalism.org

People praying for luck in the coming year at the Yen Tu Pagoda during Tet.

 

The Vietnamese make
these visits in hopes that their next year will be happy and prosperous. This
tradition is popular because the Vietnamese people are very religious and
pagodas allow them to address their wishes and prayers to the highest power –
Buddha – which is said to increase the “chances” of being blessed.
Vu Quang Anh / youthjournalism.org

 

A hieroglyph for “patience”
from the Chu Van An Pagoda.

 

During Tet, pagodas
do a lot to serve the enormous number of people coming to pray. They invest
money on decorations, plan all kinds of religious rituals, and prepare monks to
be advisors to those who are inexperienced with prayer.
The biggest pagodas,
like
the Hương Pagoda not far
away from Hanoi, even have their own big festivals that attract thousands of
Buddhists across the country and last for a whole week in February or March,
depending on the year.
There is
another pagoda custom that is becoming increasingly popular. This tradition is
giving out ancient hieroglyphs, each representing a certain quality, such as
intelligence, determination, luck or success. People believe that by obtaining
such hieroglyphs they will be able to develop those qualities and make their
own lives better.
Tet is
not merely a fun holiday, but it is also a time for people to practice
religious customs that have been practiced for centuries but cannot be done
during the year. With all the abundance of religious activities and traditions,
Tet is truly a religious holiday.