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​In Vietnam, Tet is over, but the ‘festive month’ has just begun

Thursday, February 22, 2018, 14:00 GMT+7

Many expats in Vietnam may have been back to work on Wednesday after a week-long break, when the locals observed the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival. Chances are some of their Vietnamese coworkers were either absent or present with no mood of working.

The phenomenon comes as no surprise to the Vietnamese, with the first lunar month, which began on February 16, traditionally considered ‘the month of festivities.’

The thinking originated from the good old days when most Vietnamese worked on the field, and Tet was the time for family reunion and participating in a series of traditional festivals and folk festivities.

People jostle to participate a festival in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
People jostle to participate in a Tet festival in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In modern time, such a conception has become outdated as most salaried workers in Vietnam are usually given a few days or a week at most to celebrate Tet. Despite this, some would return to work with the ‘festive spirit’ after a week of unwinding and partying.

The ‘syndrome’ is more or less the same as the so-called ‘Blue Monday,’ or the ‘most miserable day of the year’ that usually falls in January, in some Western countries.

The ‘Blue Monday’ is determined each year based on a series of factors such as weather, debt level, the amount of time since Christmas and New Year. It is believed that on that day, many are in depression over the money they spent for celebrations, their failure to achieve New Year's resolutions, or low motivational levels.

Some Vietnamese salaried workers, who started their Tet break early last week, would feel the same during their first working day after the holiday on Wednesday.

Tet is a great time for partying. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Tet is a great time for partying. Photo: Tuoi Tre

This is why Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested on Wednesday that public workers resume work promptly now that the holiday was over.

“We should put an end to the outdated thinking that the first lunar month is a time for festivals,” the premier said as he chaired a meeting between the government’s standing board and some ministries and sectors.

Why not in the mood?

February 16 marked the first day of the Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Dog in Vietnam, with public workers given days off from February 14 to 20.

Many have devoted so much of their energy and motivation to Tet celebration that they went to work on Wednesday with little liveliness and enthusiasm.

People jostle to participate a festival in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
People get wild at a Tet festival in northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

It is not unusual for offices to be scarce of employees, and those who were present would dedicate their time to talking about their holiday, sharing delicacies that they failed to use up over Tet, or even playing cards.

The common excuses for such a lack of working spirit are ‘I have yet to enjoy Tet to the fullest,” or “I have lost my energy having to return to the city from my hometown.”

Others argued that the ‘back to office’ day this year was in the middle of the week, so they found it hard to stay focused and motivated to work, with the weekend only three days ahead.

Some said they did not really enjoy Tet at all, having to join the Tet travel rush to their hometowns, where they had to visit a number of relatives and prepare holiday feasts.

Tet is also the great time for partying and drinking, and it is not easy for male workers to return to work sober when they made a toast to welcome the Year of the Dog every single night before.

This Tuoi Tre caricature depicts how Tet celebrations may affect beer-lovers.
This Tuoi Tre caricature depicts how Tet celebrations may affect beer-lovers.

And yet, for those in northern Vietnam, a series of festivals are waiting for them in the first lunar month.

These include the three-month Huong Pagoda Festival, which started in Hanoi’s outer district of My Duc on Wednesday, the Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival in Ninh Binh, the Lim Festival in Bac Ninh and the Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh.

Vietnam will observe its first full moon in the lunar calendar on March 2, after which many believe it will be the right time to forget Tet and get back to work.

People jostle to participate in the Huong Pagoda Festival in Hanoi on February 21, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The Huong Pagoda Festival in Hanoi on February 21, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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Son Luong / Tuoi Tre News

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