449. Images of Tet Toronto – Vietnamese New Year 2014

 

Year of the Horse in Balloons. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Year of the Horse in Balloons. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

I first heard the word “Tet” the day I arrived in Vietnam in 1965. I knew the country was in the middle of a civil war but Saigon was relatively safe. I discovered a street full of flowers for sale, the last thing I expected in a war. That first night, alone in a hotel room, I heard what sounded like machine gun fire. I was frightened and wondered if the Viet Cong had invaded. But it wasn’t gun fire. It was firecrackers – scaring away the evil spirits. Next morning I learned that New Year celebrations were more important than the war was to some Vietnamese.

 Last weekend in Toronto, I joined the Vietnamese Tet celebrations. No firecrackers, but lions danced in the CNE’s Better Living Centre. I again found customs similar to Chinese traditions: lucky draws, special foods, lucky red envelopes labelled “Tet,” and traditional opera. There were hundreds of people there including Mayor Rob Ford, who appeared to be very happy surrounded by beautiful young people wanting to take their picture with him.

 

Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

A nice young man was giving away free samples of health-giving ginseng. Women in a couple stalls were distributing free calendars. The Vietnamese use the Chinese calendar too, and the Year of the Horse. Tet too is January 31 this year, just like the Chinese New Year. The celebration also had a wish tree where you could leave a note or money hopefully in return for a granted wish.

 

Special Chairs for Foot Massages on Sale. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Special Chairs for Foot Massages on Sale. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

I found insurance agents, real estate agents, and an aspiring politician running for the Conservative party. Vendors were selling cosmetics and jewellery, chairs for foot massages, and television packages. Volunteers were raising money for a Vietnamese retirement home in Toronto, and for blind and orphan children. I found lots of silk flowers for sale.

 

Everyone was friendly. I was sorry more outsiders weren’t there because it was fun discovering Vietnam in Toronto.

 

 

Here are a few of my pictures:

Classical Vietnamese Opera.  Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Classical Vietnamese Opera. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

Vietnamese Meatballs for Sale. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Vietnamese Meatballs for Sale. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

The Vietnamese Have Lion Dances Too. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

The Vietnamese Have Lion Dances Too. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Draw Prizes Ranged from Car Rentals to  Noodle Soup. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Draw Prizes Ranged from Car Rentals to Noodle Soup. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

Toronto Vietnamese Marching Band. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Toronto Vietnamese Marching Band. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

In Vietnam, Chinese chess is sometimes played with human pawns during Tet, not here. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

In Vietnam, Chinese chess is sometimes played with human pawns during Tet, but not here. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Tina (left) and April  in a Hanoi Trishaw. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Tina (left) and April in a Hanoi Trishaw. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Free Calendars and a Smile from RC Jeweler. Copyright  ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

Free Calendars and a Smile from RC Jeweler. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

The Performers Included This Duet.  Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

The Performers Included This Duet. Copyright ©2014 Ruth Lor Malloy.

 

 

 

7 Comments

  1. “TẾT” festival is uniquely a New Year celebration of Vietnamese people throughout thousands years and nowadays it has been celebrated by the Vietnamese communities and non-Vietnamese friends across all continents.

    I thank Ruth Lor Malloy for her blog sharing beautiful pictures captured during the “TẾT” festival in Toronto on January 18, 2014 and her beloved thoughts. However, I feel disturbed for her assimilation between the two cultures of Chinese and Vietnamese in her blog. The New Year celebration should not be called Chinese New Year but Lunar New Year, also the same term for Calendar; the Vietnamese zodiac years differ from the Chinese zodiac years, where the Vietnamese has the year of the cat but not the Chinese’s. Also much more distinctive features of how the Vietnamese celebrate LUNAR NEW YEAR in compare to the Chinese. Please keep in mind that the Korean and Japanese celebrate the same day of New Year with the Chinese and Vietnamese too. Therefore, please stop saying Vietnamese people celebrate the Chinese New Year, rather the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese celebrate the same day of LUNAR NEW YEAR.

    1. Many thanks for your comments and letting us know about the differences in customs and names. My apologies for the error. I hope you will tell us more. It was fascinating to learn that the Vietnamese and not the Chinese have a year of the cat. Why do you think this is so? When I was in Vietnam, I learned that the first person to enter a home in the new year was very important. I don’t remember this in Chinese tradition. Can you tell us more about this? And also about other differences and similarities in customs between the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese new year celebrations. Ruth.

  2. “TẾT” festival is uniquely a New Year celebration of Vietnamese people throughout thousands years and nowadays it has been celebrated by the Vietnamese communities and non-Vietnamese friends across all continents.
    I thank Ruth Lor Malloy for her blog sharing beautiful pictures captured during the “TẾT” festival in Toronto on January 18, 2014 and her beloved thoughts. However, I feel disturbed for her assimilation between the two cultures of Chinese and Vietnamese in her blog. The New Year celebration should not be called Chinese New Year but Lunar New Year, also the same term for Calendar; the Vietnamese zodiac years differ from the Chinese zodiac years, where the Vietnamese has the year of the cat but not the Chinese’s. Also much more distinctive features of how the Vietnamese celebrate LUNAR NEW YEAR in compare to the Chinese. Please keep in mind that the Korean and Japanese celebrate the same day of New Year with the Chinese and Vietnamese too. Therefore, please stop saying Vietnamese people celebrate the Chinese New Year, rather the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese celebrate the same day of LUNAR NEW YEAR.
    Posted by: Tom T N Pham on January 22nd, 2014 at 9:28 am

  3. I feel saddened about the response from Tom Pham, that display of ethnic pride often shown by nationalistic Vietnamese when comparison was made or similarities were mentioned with respect to Chinese.

    Ruth, you may be aware of the historical antagonism and conflicts between Vietnam and China.
    Throughout Vietnam history, China has been seen as a big bad northern neighbor with unwholesome apetite for Vietnam, never to be trusted.
    This historical sentioment transforms into a will for Vietnam to distant herself from China as far as possible, for example the adoption of Latin alphabets for writing.

    In North American cities where there are significant Vietnamese population, like Texas, California or Toronto, the equaling of Tet with Chinese New Year will ruffle the feathers of nationalistic Vietnamese.
    So the tribal-neutral term Lunar New Year is preferred, mainly by Vietnamese, and to a much lesser extent by Koreans. Japanese have minimal celebration.

    Tet of course has a Chinese origin, no Vietnamese can deny that, however much they let the history between the two countries affect them.
    I as an ethnic Chinese-Canadian person can fully comprehend that.
    It’s a bit like how canadians may resist cultural domination by USA, except multiplying that by maybe 10 or more when it is between Vietnam and China due to the longer history.

    As for differences between Tet and Chinese new year, a quick Google search should yield useful information.
    Vietnam occupies a different geographical area would naturally evolve her own set of customs and traditions.
    One traditional remark about why Vietnam has the Cat in the zodiac is that the word Rabbit in some ancient Chinese sounded like cat in Vietnamese.
    A more plausible explanation is that “it’s a matter of national honour not to have copied China completely”, said Benoit de Treglobe, from the Resrach Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia in Bangkok.
    “This form of distinction in imitation can be found throughout Vietnamese culture,” he added.
    (full article: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20110203-318234/How-the-Chinese-rabbit-became-a-cat-in-Vietnam)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *