How will you celebrate Vietnamese and Chinese New Year?

Vietnamese people celebrate the New Year based on the lunisolar calendar (calculating both the motions of earth around the sun and of the moon around earth). Tet is generally celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, except when the one-hour time difference between Vietnam and China results in a new moon occurring on a different day. This year the New Year begins on February 5. Vientiane Times asked Vietnamese and Chinese expats in Laos how they plan to celebrate the day away from home.

New Year celebrations underway at the National Culture Hall in Vientiane.

Ms Laicai Mei, a student at the National University of Laos: I can’t go home for the New Year because I’m here on a scholarship. I will really miss my parents and everyone in my family but I will get an Ang Pao (red envelope) from my parents through WeChat. This is a very popular app in China and everyone uses it for bank transfers. If I were in China I would have dinner with everyone in my family. The head of the family will give an Ang Pao to the younger members and then we will listen to music and sing and dance. Here in my dormitory at Dongdok I plan to have a small party with my Chinese friends and share a hotpot together.

Ms Yimengqi, a student at the National University of Laos:  At New Year, people give the younger family members a present in the form of an Ang Pao. It is red because Chinese people believe that red is a lucky colour. The food we eat includes dumplings, pork, steamed stuffed buns, and especially fish because in China fish signify wealth. I can’t be with my family this year so I plan to have dinner with my Chinese friends and I may invite some Lao friends to join us in the dormitory. We will have hotpot, which is easy for us to make. I’m pleased this is Visit Laos-China Year. I’ve been to Vangvieng and I would also like to visit Luang Prabang and the south of Laos too.

Mr Anouz Thoumma, a vendor in Xaythany district, Vientiane:  Every year my parents lead other members of the family in making desserts which we wrap in banana leaves. My parents give us Ang Pao (a red enveloped containing money) or some other monetary gift. Some years my parents go to Vietnam to visit their hometown. I have to take care of the family business this year so I can’t go anywhere but I will celebrate with my small family. We may invite some close friends or neighbours for dinner and drinks. The Vietnamese like to hang red lanterns around their house and wear red clothes. Some high status families arrange for a dragon or lion dance outside their house. Some people set off fireworks as the New Year approaches. All families celebrate the occasion happily and noisily.

Mr Kong, a worker in Xaythany district, Vientiane: I won’t go home this year because I have to work in Laos. I have made sweets wrapped in banana leaves to give to my Lao friends and some relatives that I know well. On New Year’s Eve I may have some drinks with my friends and eat some snacks. I don’t have much money to throw a big party like some people do and I can’t afford the bus fare to my hometown. But I plan to save enough money to visit the place where I was born. In Vietnam, especially in big cities, people celebrate busily so I’m really missing my family. 

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update February 2, 2019)

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