New Year’s Renewal

While we celebrate New Years in the States, Vietnamese are still preparing. They are paying special attention to the lunar calendar in anticipation of the Lunar New Year. February 8. Tết. I did not use to realize this existed. About now they would ask me questions like, “Are you going to get your haircut?” Those first years in Vietnam I thought, “I don’t need a haircut.”

I could not imagine someone’s view of New Year being so different from my own. In America, the new year comes around and we talk about resolutions. We talk about a new resolve to take responsibility for our actions. We don’t say, “I hope.” We say, “I will.” Then our resolutions fall short. Oh well, that’s how New Year’s resolutions go!

In Vietnam, they make everything as new as possible. It’s not so much ‘making resolutions’ as it is seeking renewal. They work hard to make everything that is old look new, or if it’s affordable, they’ll make it new. Buying is always at an all-time high this time of year in Vietnam. Give the house a new paint job, buy new clothes, new shoes, and of course, a new haircut.

Then Vietnamese visit, visit, and keep visiting everyone who has meaning in their life. There is a beautiful renewal of all family relationships and friends. I never visited so many people in one week as the week after New Year in Vietnam. The unspoken rule is to mend relationships before New Year and celebrate them after in person.

This year, regardless of what day you begin it, why not make a resolution to try something new. Discover a new culture. Learn a new language. Make new friends completely different from you.

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