|British researcher of Vietnamese politics and history Kyril Whittaker pays respect to President Ho Chi Minh at the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK. (Photo: NVA)
Tet celebration is always an interesting experience for him, Kyril told a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in the UK.
Whittaker, whose wife is Vietnamese, said that it is easy to recognise a joyful atmosphere everywhere, from the city to the countryside when Tet comes. Every person and family is busy shopping for Tet. They buy new clothes and prepare food and beverages for the biggest holiday of the year. People return to their hometowns to celebrate Tet and reunite with their families after a year of hard work.
The researcher pointed out that Tet represents the diversity of Vietnamese culture, from cuisine, music and art to social interaction, through fine customs and practices such as worshipping ancestors, wrapping banh chung (sticky rice cake), xong dat (first footing), wearing ao dai (traditional long dress), performing traditional music and songs about Tet and spring, and folk games. According to him, Tet is an opportunity to foster relationships as all families welcome guests who are relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
In particular, Tet reflects the ecological culture of Vietnamese people, which is the relationship between people and land and vice versa, Kyril said. He cited typical Tet dishes such as melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, banh chung, pickled onions, fruit trays, and decorative flowers and plants during Tet like peaches, apricots and kumquats.
Another fine Tet custom that shows Vietnam's ecological culture is the New Year tree planting festival, a movement launched by Uncle Ho and maintained by generations of Vietnamese leaders until today, Whittaker said, adding that it indicates a tradition of preserving Vietnam's agricultural culture and biodiversity.
Tet is a festival bearing the characteristics of Vietnamese culture, he concluded.