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tết

tết

noun  
  • New Year's Day, Tet festival
  • To the Vietnamese people, Tết Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year's Day) is very sacred. The Tết season usually falls on either the second half of the first calendar month, or the early days of the second calendar month of the year. This is the time when family members together make food, fruit and incense offerings on the family altars to commemorate their ancestors. This is also the time for people to visit their neighbours, their friends and relatives. During the first three or four days of Tết, any visitor who is the first visitor to one's house to offer Tết greetings would be considered as the first visitor for the year (Xông đất). Their good or bad luck would have a strong effect on the house owner's business success for the coming year. The belief of Xông đất remains very strong nowadays, especially among business people. Tết days are always regarded as a perfect time for people to enjoy traditional food such as bánh chưng, a square-shaped sticky rice cake, the fragrance of which alone could strongly provoke one's sense of nostalgia for Tết
  • WHAT TẾT MEANS FOR HANOIAN CHRISTIANS Hà Nội (originally called Thăng Long) was an early site for the propagation of Christianity. Phan Phát Huờn, author of "Việt Nam Giáo Sử" Vol.1 (A History of Religion in Vietnam), writes that in 1581, a missionary named De Pesaro wrote a letter and sent pictures depicting the history of Christianity to Mạc Mậu Hợp (the then ruler of Thăng Long). In 1584, another missionary, Bartholomew Ruiz of the Franciscan Order from Manila, came with an interpreter to Northern Vietnam (then called Tonkin) and Thăng Long. He was warmly received by Mạc Mậu Hợp and allowed to hold his services and ceremonies. In 1626, Father Baldinoti arrived in Thăng Long and was greeted by Trịnh Tráng, the then Lord of the North. He was also granted permission to hold services for the public. This put the Christian faith in Vietnam well on its way. A real landmark came in 1627, when missionary Alexandre de Rhodes came to Hà Nội on July 2 after Lord Trịnh Tráng returned from his expedition to the South. This event effected a marked change in the propagation of Christianity in Northern Vietnam. From just a wooden hut provided by Trịnh Tráng, Rhodes set up a small prayer-hall to preach his faith and by the end of 1627, he had baptised over 1,200 people. In 1628, another ,000 were baptised, with this number growing to 3,500 in 1629. At the same time, Rhodes romanised the Vietnamese language in order to further facilitate the spread of Christianity. He also wrote a book in Vietnamese called 'Christianity in Eight Days'. To provide a stronger base for Christianity, he incorporated local customs and traditions to his religious festivals and practices, especially during the Tết Festival period. The New Year festival, according to the local people's lunar calendar, is one of the most important annual events for the people of this agricultural economy. During the festival, people erect in front of their houses a high bamboo pole called a 'cây nêu' to ward off evil spirits. Taking full advantage of this tradition, he advised people, especially his Christian followers, to hang a cross on top of the pole to highlight theTrinity. He advised followers to offer prayers in the first three days of the New Year to the Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Ghost and thanksgiving to the Trinity and saints of the religion. In 1805, the Bishop of Vietnam wrote to all Christians in Northern Vietnam during the New Year festival urging them to be brothers and offer each other good wishes, entertain and dine with each other. This remains a good and healthy practice. These practices were maintained until the 1960s, after which new ones were introduced. For instance, the second day of the New Year is used to commemorate ancestors, in keeping with the Vietnamese custom. Interestingly, Vietnamese Christians have included various Christian festivals in the lunar calendar. Following the Trinity festival and the Candle festival comes Tết. Thus, they say: 'Ba Vua, Lễ Nến, Tết đến sau lưng' (If Epiphany and Candlemas have come, Tết cannot be far behind). Christian churches also prepare for Tết putting up beautiful decorations and engaging in communal activities

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