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Our Vietnamese textile workshop celebrates the New Year!

Today, it is “Têt” : « chúc mừng năm mới »!

What do you mean you don’t speak Vietnamese?

Translation for dummies: chúc mừng năm mới is “Happy New Year”, and Têt Nguyen Dan literally means “Feast of the first day of the year”. It celebrates spring and this year, it is February 1, since it is the first day of the lunar calendar.

Why a different date for the New Year in our country?

If we have adopted the solar Gregorian calendar a long time ago, and almost universally, some populations have kept the lunar calendar, like, among others, the Asian populations.

We hear a lot about Chinese New Year, but Vietnam follows the same tradition, and as I speak, the whole country has launched a week of festivities.

The Têt is the most important event of the year, and if it «freezes» the country for a week of celebration, it begins to prepare well before. One to two weeks before D-Day, the streets of towns and villages are painted with red and gold decorations that symbolize longevity, luck and prosperity.

From shop windows to corporate offices, not to mention the houses of the inhabitants, you can admire the paper lanterns, the yellow apricot tree blossoms (Hoa Mai) and the Kumquat trees.

Yellow apricot blossoms

The customs of Tet in Vietnam

Vietnamese New Year Traditions

To erase any trace of last year, and ensure the renewal for 2022, the houses are cleaned, repainted, debts are paid off, and wardrobe is renewed for the festivities.

Did you know that the very first person invited to the house on this first day of the year must be a healthy, generous and virtuous person so that the house and its family have a happy and prosperous year during the year?

The Têt is, first of all, a family celebration, dedicated to good relations between generations and to worship of ancestors.

It is customary to go to the temples and pagodas and buy calligraphies, to go to the markets of Têt to get the ingredients and cook as a family, to go and beautify the resting places of the ancestors and to visit the relatives. Children receive money slipped into small red envelopes that embodies luck.

If there is one essential ceremony, it is that of the "Cung Giao thua":

a cult inside devoted to ancestors, and another outside to say goodbye to genies. The head of the family leads prayers to get rid of anxiety and for a year of peace, luck and prosperity.

Traditions of Têt in Vietnam

Traditional Têt dishes

Every festive event is accompanied by traditional dishes. If food and meals in general are already sacred in Vietnam in everyday life, let’s tell you that for Têt we do not joke!

The Banh Chung or Banh Têt = Sticky rice cake stuffed with green bean seeds, pork and black pepper, boiled for long hours and wrapped in dong leaves. It is served with fermented onions, and its square shape symbolizes the Earth, which was thought to be square and flat at the time of its creation.

Ginger, tomato, apple and mandarin orange jams, often placed on the altar during the celebration…

The typical fried spring roll of the Vietnamese food base.

And no festivities without the traditional sticky rice alcohol, corn alcohol, alcohol from San Lung and Mau Son!

Banh Chung, jams, fried spring roll

Vietnamese are going from Buffalo to Tiger

If the Metal Buffalo of the previous lunar year was the symbol of honesty, reliability, strength, and determination, often associated with family values and work; the Water Tiger, him, promises a year 2022 under the sign of power and bravery. The smart tiger predicts commitment and success, strength and courage.

2022 the Year of the Tiger in Vietnam

What does Tet mean to Laboa?

Our Fair Fashion Vietnam partner textile workshop is located in Ho Chi Minh, the capital of southern Vietnam. Our partner textile workshop Fair Fashion Vietnam is located in Ho Chi Minh, the capital of southern Vietnam. It closes its doors for a well-deserved week’s vacation. Our seamstress co-workers, when they are not from Saigon, go back to their towns and villages to find their loved ones. For Marc, the founder of Fair Fashion (the first social company created and recognized by the Vietnamese Textile Ministry), and his wife Nghi, fashion and design specialist and production manager, it is THE best week of rest of the year, peaceful, quiet, away from the purr of sewing machines.

But for Laboa, technically, Tet is... the mess!

The wholesalers of fabrics, haberdashery and other raw materials needed to make your favorite belt bags, begin to clear out their stocks almost a month before the Têt, so the supply is transformed into a real «rough-and-tumble» and, of course, must be plan ahead. The after-Têt … well it’s the same! The machine starts again gradually after a week of festivities, from the resupplying to the manufacturing.

Our annual production schedule turns, among other things, on this fateful date, with of course the valuable help and logistics of the on-site workshop.

Seamstresses of the Fair Fashion Workshop

«4 years in Vietnam = 4 Têt (so far so good)

I lived in Ho Chi Minh from 2010 to 2014.

At the time, I was working for a tourist receiving service.

Laboa was already in the projects and was slowly taking shape in my mind.

In the office, the expatriates did not take a holiday during Têt because we gave priority to our Vietnamese colleagues who, for anything in the world, would work during this week of family festivities. So, for us who stayed, he also whistled a little holiday air: offices almost empty, calm, no phone calls and bosses absent (which never bothers anyone 😏).

The previous weeks it was madness: panic in the office to get everything ready before the apocalypse, crowded streets, impassable sidewalks, explosion of red and yellow decorations all over the city, traffic of motorcycles and scooters teeming (even more than usual I hear, which is not obvious, but before Têt everything is possible!), the race for train tickets, buses, planes for the return of the Viet in their native villages, the lines in the stores for food supplies.

And overnight... THE DESERT! The streets of Saigon empty, no engine noises, no screams, no horns, an improbable freeze-frame.

You know, those times when you want to run around naked in the street screaming, "I’m alone in the world," like in a science fiction movie (I thought about it, but after some thought, I didn’t risk finding myself face-to-face with the only expat in the neighborhood who stayed at home 😳).

Anyway, the week of Tet, for me, was the ideal to stay in town, especially not to find ourselves in the rush of departures, and to enjoy this break in time.

In addition, I was lucky enough to be invited to a few celebrations by Viet friends or colleagues from the region, within their families, and to be welcomed and integrated with an extraordinary kindness and benevolence: touching customs, with a high color, and feasts to die for!

Note for the novices who will live their 1st Tet in Vietnam: think about doing food shopping before: I had to go on a forced diet because no (I mean NO) store is open during this week, not a grain of rice to eat!».

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