Friday, February 4, 2011

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Happy Vietnamese New Year! Sorry for the delay in blogging to those faithful readers that still check in. Frankly the issue isn't so much things to write about but it is the lack of photos. It seems we go through photo happy stages where we seem to constantly have a camera in hand ready to snap a picture of the little man doing his little man things. Then we spend more time sitting back and enjoying his antics and not thinking about capturing the moments for posterity. In any event as yesterday was Tet I figured I would do a blog entry with a little update, a couple of pictures and a blurb about Tet for those not familiar.

I'll start with the blurb about Tet. It is the first day of the new year in the Vietnamese zodiac calendar. It is the biggest celebration in Vietnam and lasts for 7 days. Every year it begins on a different day and this year was February 3rd. 2011 is the year of the cat (the Vietnamese Zodiac is almost identical to the Chinese except for two differences, the cat being one of them. For the Chinese it is the year of the rabbit). The following is some excellent information about Tet I pulled off the good old internet:

Preparation for Tet starts weeks before New Year's Day. Homes are cleaned to get rid of bad fortune associated with the old year. Families paint their homes to give it a new look. Everyone gets new clothes and new shoes. Pay your debts and resolve differences between family and friends.

A special ceremony called Le Tru Tich is held at the mid-night hour (Giao Thua) on New Year's Eve. The ritual involves firecrackers and gongs and other festive items that make loud noises to usher out the old and welcome the new.

Like the Chinese, Vietnamese people are very careful about what they do on New Year's Day. The events on New Year's Day determine your luck for the rest of the year. Therefore, everything and everyone you are in touch with on New Year's Day should symbolize good fortune. Don't visit people who are in mourning because they are associated with death. Children should not fight or cry on New Year's Day. Homes are decorated with Hoa Mai, a yellow blossom that represents spring.

Family members exchange gifts and pay homage to the Kitchen God. They also visit local temples to pray for prosperity and good health.

During Tet, Vietnamese families plant a New Year's tree called Cay Neu in front of their homes. A bamboo pole is often used as a Cay Neu. All the leaves are removed from the tree so that it can be wrapped or decorated by good luck red paper. Legends have it that the red color scares off evil spirits. On the seventh (the last) day of Tet, the Cay Neu is taken down. This is the last ritual of the New Year celebration.

We have always planned to celebrate Tet with Van and attempt to follow the customs of the celebration as close as possible but the time got away from us this year. I know this is no excuse. The only thing that causes me to not feel too racked with guilt is that he is still very young and will not remember our lapse this year. Next year will be different. I am very admiring of the families that went to lengths to do Tet properly, hats off to you!! We did end up meeting up with a few families a week ago for a Tet dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. Thanks goes to Sandra for organizing that! We are also hoping to make it to Sam, Woody, Max and Vanh's this Sunday for a little Tet celebration so it's not over yet :) Here are a few pics at the restaurant last week:

Looking at his red envelope with a money gift from Sandra. Children are given red envelopes with money from adults as a gift for the New Year. Older children are allowed to do what they please with the money, even gamble! In the north of Vietnam this tradition is called mừng tuổi and in the south it is called lì xì:

Enjoying some yummy food:

As far as an update goes, he is now almost 18 1/2 months old! He has been with us for just over 8 months. Crazy! He had his 18 month old doctor's check up and he is healthy and doing well. He is at the 25% for both height and weight on the North American charts. There is a tiny bit of concern about his speech so we will have to keep an eye, or ear, on it. He still babbles a lot but has very few recognizable words. We think this will come in time and are not too worried but it is something to be aware of. We have the information for the early words program and if he hasn't made much progress by his second birthday we will have to look into it. Other than that he is great! He is a generally happy and very active little peanut who charms all who meet him. We are very lucky indeed!

I will definitely attempt to have another entry up with more pictures after Sunday's mini Tet party.

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