Researcher Nguyen Hung Vy: Tet places eternal value in Vietnamese people’s spiritual life

Tuesday, 2019-02-05 09:53:19
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Folklore cultural researcher Nguyen Hung Vy
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NDO – On the first day of the lunar New Year (Tet) 2019 – the Year of the Pig, Nhan Dan Weekly Newspaper held a talk with folklore cultural researcher Nguyen Hung Vy, who during his talk reiterated the true eternal value of Tet in Vietnamese people’s spiritual life.

Question: Today, when life is getting busier and people are getting more hurried, do you think the people still look forward to Tet?

Researcher Nguyen Hung Vy: I believe that not only me but every Vietnamese person looks forward to Tet. Tet is a special festival for everyone, I think. Its unique feature is its popularity. While a specific religion, belief or ritual is practiced in a specific area by a specific community, Tet is celebrated by everyone. From elders to children, from ordinary people to Overseas Vietnamese abroad, they all expect Tet.

Tet is also a symbol of national solidarity when people are brought together through a bunch of arts and cultural activities and practices. People take part in various genres of folk singing, and go to pagodas and temples. The special festive atmosphere during Tet cannot be observed in any other festival.

Tet reminds people of their roots, providing them an occasion to think about the present and plan for the future. Many customs and taboos are observed during Tet in order to pray for blessings and a better life after a hard-working year.

For all these reasons, Tet is a particularly important legacy.

Despite not being a major trend, many youngsters have raised their opinion that Vietnam should celebrate only one New Year festival instead of two, and they have suggested merging the solar and lunar New Years. What do you think about this?

I think it is difficult to make it come true because it is rooted from the community’s consciousness. We celebrate the first and the fifteenth days of every lunar month, our ancestors’ death anniversaries as well as many other major occasions according to lunar calendar.

In fact, opinions on applying solar calendar instead of lunar ones have been raises since the early 20th century. Japan, for example, has merged two New Year festivals into one in late 18th century, but the adjustment has left so much pity on people in modern life that many of them have called to restore the lunar New Year celebration.

It is important to question whether economic growth makes countries happier. Singapore and China still celebrate Tet while keeping their development in track.

For those who argue that the merge of solar and lunar New Years will mitigate arising problems, such as heavy traffic, and the mass migration when people return home for Tet, they might be true.

However, the issues can be gradually fixed regarding the improvement and enhancement of the traffic system.

It is said that Tet is a costly occasion, but I think that it depends on people’s decision on how to celebrate Tet.

From elders to children, from ordinary people to Overseas Vietnamese abroad, they all expect Tet.

An obvious change has been seen in the way Vietnamese people celebrate Tet. Do you think it is true?

Looking back to the past, Tet was all about feasts, food and drink. But in today’s life when people’s livelihood is significantly improved, people tend to celebrate Tet in a more relaxing and entertaining way.

However, it also brings about a consequence that solidarity in the community seems to have been stronger than it is at present, when people can celebrate Tet everywhere rather than only at their homes with families.

I think that it is not a problem if you are not at home during Tet or travel during the holiday. However, on the lunar New Year’s Eve, please burn an incense to commemorate your ancestors or go online to talk with your family members. It is a good way to turn your heart to your roots and your ancestors.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

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