‘The Year of the Cat’ by Al Stewart, 1976. The title was inspired by Vietnamese astrology.
For many Asians 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, but in Vietnamese astrology 2011 is the Year of the Cat, a year free of stress.
Yippee-hi-ho! I don’t know about you, but I could use a year with no stress. Bring it on!
There are a lot of traditions (read: superstitions) that ensure a prosperous and happy New Year—everything from eating moon cakes to handing out red envelopes to making sure you have blossoming plants in your home, to ensuring that a person of wealth and respect is the first to walk through your front door on the first day of the New Year. Everyone wants to begin the year with good luck!
Even if it’s not your culture, who couldn’t use a little more good luck in their life, eh? I don’t need to be Japanese in order to enjoy good Japanese food.
Here are three easy (and fun) suggestions for ringing in the New Year Vietnam-style.
1. Plate of five fruits. Vietnamese put together a pyramid of fruit (the types of fruit will depend on the region of the country that you’re from) to place on an alter in their home as a symbol of prosperity.
So, take a minute and consciously arrange a platter of five different kinds of fruit for your family to enjoy throughout the first week of the New Year.
2. Giving out red envelopes. A gift of good luck and thoughtfulness.
Typically red envelopes filled with a little money are given only to those that are younger than you. My grandfather used to always give me red envelope that had a California Lottery ticket inside (he LOVED playing the lottery). Sometimes I would get a red envelope with a cherry blossom or a little note, even a funny comic.
Take this opportunity to give your kids (or spouse) a little pocket money and a note about why they’re special. Or maybe slip in movie tickets for your honey. Or a simple flower blossom. It’s just an excuse to show a little thoughtfulness and wish someone good luck.
3. Pay respect to your elders. On New Year’s Day in Vietnam it is tradition to go and visit the elders in your family and in your community to pay them respect and wish them a Happy New Year. You want to let them know how important they are. It’s a short 15-minute visit of chatting over tea and some snacks of dried fruit and nuts, but it’s probably one of the most important traditions of the New Year.
If you can’t physically visit, give a call, send an email, reach out and say, “Hello, Happy New Year!”
Lots of love and may you have a wonderful stress-free New Year!