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Tet through the lens of baby boomers

In the heart of every Tet celebration lies memories, woven together by generations past and present. As we navigate the labyrinth of tradition and modernity, it's essential to reflect on the threads that bind us to the vibrant history of Tet. Today, we have two special guests – my grandparents! Join us on a nostalgic journey as we explore the unique charm of Tet through the lens of generations.

Author (A): Hi grandpa, hi grandma! It is my honor today to bring your experiences and insights about Vietnamese culture, especially in this season when Tet is approaching.
Grandfather (G): It's our pleasure, dear. We always enjoy sharing our memories.

A: Let's start with the basics. Can you describe how Tet celebrations were in your time?
Grandmother (GM): Oh, Tet was a magical time. The house would be adorned with vibrant decorations, and the air filled with the aroma of special dishes. At that time, special dishes are something actually “special” – the only occasion for us to have those premium foods such as banh chung, nem, thit dong, is Tet. We have to live frugally the whole year, so that we can save up enough money to celebrate a cozy Tet with family members.

Tet flower market in Hanoi, 1990 (Steve Raymer, Nevada Wier, via Kenh14)

A: That sounds incredible. Do you feel that Tet today captures the same vivacity?
GM: Well, things have evolved. Nowadays, it seems that young people don’t appreciate Tet to that extent, because you guys have good meals very often. However, I think to everyone, old or young, Tet is not just a celebration, but rather a chance to reunite with family and relatives. But there's a charm in blending the old and the new. We've adapted to modern times while holding on to the essence of our heritage.
G: Yes, the youth nowadays seems to take advantage of the days off more than the good food, contrary to us back then. The Tet of today carries a different energy, but it's equally beautiful in its own way, just like how Tet is from its roots.

A: Speaking of roots, what values do you think Tet traditions pass down through generations?
GM: Customs like cleaning the house thoroughly, giving lucky money to children, visiting relatives’ houses, are still being practiced by young people. Those are deeply-rooted into Vietnamese people’s perspective about Tet, that’s why young people also appreciate them, I think. Also, the rituals instill a sense of belonging to everyone.
G: It's not just about the customs; it's about the stories and lessons hidden within them. Tet is a living legacy passed down through stories, values, and shared experiences.

A: How do you see the role of technology in capturing and sharing Tet moments
GM: Technology has indeed changed how we document Tet. One of my younger sisters is in Da Lat, and another one is in Ho Chi Minh City, yet we still make group video calls to share about the celebration at where we are, from 3 different regions of Vietnam. And last year I created a Facebook account, so I think this year I can also share Tet photos on social media just like how the youths are doing – it's an upgrade to the traditional family photo albums.

A: Lastly, what do you believe is the true essence of Tet through the ages?
GM: The true essence lies in the laughter shared, the stories exchanged, and the timeless rituals that connect us to our roots.
G: Tet is a celebration of family, and that essence has remained constant. No matter how times change, the heart of Tet is the love and togetherness it fosters.

A: Thank you both for sharing your insights and memories. It's been a wonderful journey through Tet's timeless threads, bridging the past and the present.
GM: Our pleasure, dear. Happy Tet to VinUnians reading this article!
G: Happy Tet indeed!

As Tet is blossoming once more, its enduring spirit should be appreciated even more. While traditions evolve, the essence of Tet – family, gratitude, and a fresh start – continues to bind us to our heritage. So, cherish the reunions, savor the stories, and embrace the new alongside the old!




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