The Chinese New Year is coming - right on January 30, 2014! And on the same day, the Vietnamese will celebrate their Tet Festival. The New Year Holiday is widely celebrated around the world but people in Asia especially love to celebrate a holiday to mark the start of a new year. But how people celebrate varies from country to country: the Chinese paste red couplets on doors and eat "good luck" food, the Thais splash water on one another… read on and find out how people in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand celebrate New Year.
In China, people paste red couplets and eat good luck food
The celebration of Chinese New Year is called “guo nian” (pass a year). The legend goes that “nian” was a cruel monster which ate human being. When people found that “nian” was scared of red things and the sound of fireworks, people pasted red Chinese couplets on doors to drive away the “nian”, and it becomes a custom in China.
People in China also clean houses and worship ancestors to welcome the new year. However, the most important part of the celebration is to have the reunion dinner on New Year's Eve. In the evening family members gather around the table and enjoy a huge family dinner composed of many the dishes that symbolize good luck and fortune for the upcoming year.
In Vietnam, people plant a tree in their courtyards
Vietnam is a country greatly influenced by China. Therefore, people celebrate the Vietnamese New Year (the Tet Festival) on the same day when people celebrate Chinese New Year. Tet is the abbreviation of Tet Nguyen Dan which means the first morning of the first day of the new period.
Like the Chinese, long before the Tet, people clean their houses, buy new clothes and get a new haircut, pay debts and prepare plenty of food to get rid of bad fortune and ring in a new year. People travel from across the county to go home and spend the Tet holiday with their family members. One different way of Vietnamese people celebrating the New Year is that they will plant a bamboo tree called a Cay Neu in the courtyard during the Tet Holiday. The tree is decorated with red streamers and flowers to ward off the evil spirits and welcome good luck.
In Cambodia, people flock to temple and wash their Buddha statues
In Cambodia, New Year is more of a spiritual experience than an excuse to party. During the 3 days of Chaul Chnam Thmey (Cambodian New Year), people visit the temple each day and spend time praying, playing and eating.
The Cambodian New Year usually falls on April 13 or 14, marking the end of the harvesting season. Family members will pray for health, happiness and a fruitful farming season. On the first day, the Cambodians bear rice and food to temple and give out to monks. The second day is also spent at the temple. Children will present gifts to the elders to show their respect and the gifts might be a new cloth, baked goods, or money. On the final day, people will wash the Buddha statues with perfumed water, which is considered as a good deed and would bring good luck, happiness and longevity to people. After that, people wash with the same fragrant water
In Thailand, people splash water and tie string
The Thai New Year (Songkran Festival) is closely linked with water and string.
The Thai people sprinkle each other with perfumed water to welcome the Thai New Year. Traditionally, the youngest pour jasmine petal scented water over the shoulder of old people and speak words of blessing and good wishes for the good coming year. In return, the elderly ask for forgiveness for any harsh words that may have used in the past year.
When the last drop of water is splashed. It comes to the string tying ritual: tie the string around somebody’s wrist to preserve good luck. Again, words of good are exchanged.