Tet, Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year – whatever one calls it, is the most important holiday in Vietnamese and Chinese culture. In fact, it is more than a holiday. It is the most cheerful, joyous and anticipated time of the year, where anybody would be willing to trade anything to be with their loved ones.
Tet has been mentioned countless times everywhere, thus almost everyone is familiar with it. This article from me is not going to cover our celebrating rituals, what kind of clothes we wear, what traditional food we eat, etc… I want to talk about Tet from the perspective of a person who is living overseas, who does not have the luxury of witnessing that sacred atmosphere in person.
This is not the first time that I do not celebrate Tet with my family. Around this time last year, my Vietnamese pals and I all gathered around to cook and watch the most popular show during Tet, just like what I always did at home. It was as fun and cosy as it could have been. But expectedly, we could not conceal our feelings. I was fine and all till one of the girls began sobbing and tearing up while talking to her parents on the phone. That was when I realized, I was 8000km away from home.
This time around, as Tet is approaching again, even if none of us mentions it, everyone knows how precious an evening with our parents is to us right now. The convenience of social media can be a double-edged sword as well, since our friends and relatives are posting about how many day-offs they have this year, how neat the chung cake they just made is, even complaining about the number of dishes they have to wash, or how cold the weather is. It makes everything seems so close, yet so far.
So, how to cope? You can either choose to buy a chung cake for >10e, a plane ticket home for >800e, a train ticket to Helsinki to go to Phuc Lam pagoda for >30e or a dinner with friends who also celebrate Tet. I have made the decision to do nothing this year. No dinner. No chung cake. No last minute flight with 2 transit points. I reckoned I am used to being away from home on these kinds of holidays now. I consider myself a sentimental individual, but when I want to focus on other things, Tet would just be like any other week in this snowy land.
So, yeah. How about you?