On the first day back to office after Tet (the Lunar New Year, Festival), Ngoc Anh, a salesperson of an insurance company actually did not work. After the long vacation of one week, she was now busy with… her Facebook. After posting some photos of the atmosphere at her work, she checked the newsfeeds of her friends, usually with similar photos, to compare who got the most “lucky” money. It is just one of the multiple activities showing the relaxing festive ambiance of the “post-New Year” as many people still want to continue the fun.
|Office employees like to chit-chat after Tet
It is because “the first lunar month of the year is the time for pleasure and relaxation”, as Anh said. In fact, this folk phrase is probably learned by heart by every Vietnamese. In the old time, with the rudimentary farming and simple production tool, farmers depended much on the weather for their crops. The beginning of the year, with a lot of rain, was unfavorable for farm work so it became their leisure time after hard working the whole year. Today in the industry and technology age, many still love to “preserve” this “tradition”.
The first day back to work after Tet is not really for work, according to Anh. “Well, nobody is in the mood for work. We are happy in the atmosphere of the New Year and we don’t want it to stop,” she said.
So it becomes a “tradition” in her company for the day that all staff gather for the greeting of the New Year with best wishes from the boss and for each other. Their largest expectation of the day is the lucky money given by the boss and colleagues. The custom of giving lucky money to children in the New Year for blessing is common at work today, not only for luck but also fun for adults as they can live their childhood again. Then they can share it with their family and friends, making it become a “theme” in social pages this time.
The first day at office is also the good time for colleagues to gather after a long holiday, to update about how the year’s largest holidays went, like visiting home with family and friends, price escalation for necessary products before and after Tet as usual, traffic congestion from people visiting home and getting back, travel journeys, the weather during Tet, and blah blah blah. Many stories need to be told. So it’s better to talk about it on a table with food instead of papers of usual business meetings.
Then it is a tip to book a table in a restaurant in advance, otherwise it would be hard to get an available one this time. It is the same with Karaoke boxes, the next common place that they go after eating and drinking. Obviously, few people think about getting back to the office on the day. “Everyone is also enjoying Tet now so why don’t we? Even if we want to work, we cannot because other relative sectors or our partners are partying. We work the whole year,” said Minh Tuyet, a staff of a tourism company.
|Karaoke is a favorite activity
To others, it is not enough for this atmosphere just one day but a few days, a week or even more. Besides food and karaoke, house parties are organized often as well. As Tet is for family then “post-Tet” is regarded as for and friends, colleagues and actually themselves. Once again, traditional food is enjoyed. It is also a good way to help your friends to finish the food left over from Tet as some may cooked too much. With Youtube, they can also satisfy their passion with singing easily at home. They also have fun with card playing, one of the popular games during Tet. “We were so busy during Tet with a lot of responsibilities for visiting home in another town, decorating house, cooking traditional food, welcoming guests and visiting relatives. We didn’t have time for ourselves. So it’s now the real Tet time for us,” Tuyet said.
Joining Tuyet’s house party, one of her colleagues, Javier Sanchez from Spain, said that he enjoyed the atmosphere. “It is very different from Europe where people got back to work seriously after the long vacation like Christmas and New Year. But we love ‘fiesta’ (Spanish for party), you know, so I like it as I can have more chance to enjoy more Vietnamese food and drinks as well as singing with my colleagues,” he said, “actually, it does not affect work because our peak season at Tet had just finished.”
Another traditional habit of the New Year which is visiting temples and pagodas to pray for good luck and prosperity is also followed after the vacation as many worshiping festivals are taken place in well-known pagodas in the first lunar month. These festivals provide not only an opportunity for people to pray for the best for the New Year but also animated atmosphere for interesting ritual ceremonies, folk music and games, the best time to visit especially to small villages.
|Going to religious places is a custom in Vietnam
While many groups of family and friends organize trips, companies also give a few more days off for everyone, including the boss, to go together. It is also a chance for them to spend time to tighten the relationship out of work. “It is an important activity for the New Year as our boss has a strong belief in spiritual power which can influence the business. So we are encouraged to join and even invite our family and friends for more fun,” said Anh.
In addition, spring is also one of the best time to travel in the country as various kinds of flowers bloom, especially in the Northwestern where there is a rich system of mountain and forest such as Quang Ninh province, Sapa (Lao Cai province), Mai Chau (Hoa Binh province), Moc Chau (Son La province, Ha Giang province, among others. Therefore, a “spring trip” has become a habit of the local people for a long time, usually featuring a short time from one to a few days. “Then we will have good energy to start a New Year,” said Tuyet.