The weather for Tet is another sign of Luck. It is my understanding that on the first day of Tet it is good luck to have a light misty spring rain. I believe it is better known here as “Tet rain.” During our time at pagoda the Tet rain arrived and it seemed to be in just the right quantity and just the right intensity. Not too much not too little, just right. After the Tet rain on the first day of Tet the weather stayed cool and cloudy with a little sun now and then. It seems to have been absolutely perfect weather for visiting relatives, friends, and teachers. The weather also has been perfect for the big party that takes place on Van Cao Street every night. The restaurant owners have the tarps and awnings up for the celebrating crowd but the weather has cooperated so nicely that the coverings are only a contingency plan. I believe one night there was some rain however, it did not seem to dampen the spirits of the people much although it may have dampened their pretty new clothes.
Just like the new clothes on the American Easter holiday, Tet is about having a new outfit. Many people at pagoda were dressed in their new suits and dresses. And the fashion show does not stop there. All over the city people are traveling around doing their family visits in their pretty new clothes. It is very common to see women passengers riding side saddle with their high heels and a lovely new dress behind their partner who is wearing a suit and tie. The fashion statement made during Tet in the cities of Viet Nam is definitely something to be experienced.
Why all the fuss and new clothes? Tet is the largest family reunion on the planet! College students leave the cities and go home for Tet. The banks are closed for a week while the bankers are with their families. People travel to the ancestral village to honor the elders and the ancestors. People fly from all over the world back home to Viet Nam for Tet. Those who cannot afford to fly back, may make the effort to celebrate Tet within their communities. My wife Bernie visited a celebration put on by the Rochester NY Vietnamese Community complete with the traditional Tet foods and party atmosphere. My daughter Lori is a Physical Therapist Assistant in Quakertown PA. She is treating a Vietnamese Nun. This sweet woman brought my daughter Tet gifts and Lucky Money. And so it is in this way that my time in Viet Nam has brought my wife, my daughter, and I together in the experience of Tet.
Why is it so important for Vietnamese people to go back home? As I mentioned earlier the Tet celebration is for the living and also for those who have passed into spirit. The way I understand it the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest during Tet. In my own spiritual practice of Wicca we believe that on Samhain Eve the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. The possibility of contact with family members who have passed on is the greatest on Samhain Eve. So I understand why in the tradition of Tet everyone needs to be at the ancestral home for this family reunion. I am told that in the villages each family has their own altar to honor the ancestors and there is also a communal family altar where ritual celebrations take place.
This is the latest installment of my paper. I am halfway done and I still have a lot of information to convey. I hope you all enjoyed the singing birds as much as I do. Victor said they do not bother him at all, he sleeps like a rock. I was thinking of buying a bird for the program house. I am not sure how that would go over. I just enjoy their songs. It is best to experience it in person sooooooo next vacation visit beautiful Viet Nam!
Chuc Mung Nam Moi!