How do young Vietnamese people spend their Lunar New Year holiday?
VGP - For Vietnamese people, the Lunar New Year holiday has always been a time period of retrospection and hope. It is the occasion for people to look back upon the achievements and leave behind the unpleasant things of the past year.
It is also an occasion for family members to reunite; for relatives, friends and co-workers to meet and wish each other a happy new year.
As dynamic and open-minded new-generation citizens however, young Vietnamese people quite often have their own ‘spin’ on this traditional holiday.
A new season to travel
Compared to previous generations, young Vietnamese people tend to be more in tune with their individual desires - especially the desire to experience the world around them, as they are born into a period of relative prosperity. Unlike their forebearers, an increasing number of young Vietnamese people now see the Lunar New Year holiday as an opportunity to enjoy themselves and rather than an occasion to burden their minds with obligations. As a result, in recent years, ‘Lunar New Year tourism’ has become a growing trend in Viet Nam. According to many young Vietnamese people, the Lunar New Year holiday is actually an ideal season to travel, as most tourist attractions are often less crowded, and so travelling during this time of the year is a unique experience. Some Vietnamese young adults strike a balance between their desire to travel and the traditions of family reunion on Lunar New Year by convincing their family members to join them on vacation trips.
For the less adventurous young people, travelling is not an ideal option. Instead, a fair number of young people consider the Lunar New Year holiday as the shopping season. In fact, some young people go as far as saying that the money they saved throughout the year is precisely for this moment. And there are reasons for them to believe this: Lunar New Year holiday is the season of sales and promotional offers, as businesses try to capitalize upon the increased consumer demand in this time period. In recent years, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more young people are shifting towards e-commerce platforms for their Lunar New Year purchases.
A good time to do some more work
In contrast to the travel lovers and the shopaholics, young people who are more industrious have a different take on the Lunar New Year holiday. Article 98 of the 2019 Labor Code stipulates that an employee who works on public holidays is paid at least 300% of the salary he/she receives on a normal working day in addition to the salary one would get on full-paid leave (a total 400% in real terms). Because of this, some young people view the Lunar New Year holiday as an opportunity to earn a considerable amount of extra income. When asked about the reason why they decide to work on this traditional holiday, some young people point to the financial or social pressures from their family members and peers. Others say that they work to fulfill their increased shopping needs in the holiday season.
Good old Lunar New Year
Despite what is said above, for many, if not most young Vietnamese people, the meaning of the Lunar New Year holiday is the same as it has always been: A holiday to reunite with your family, to reflect on the past year and to give your loved ones the best wishes. A couple of days before Lunar New Year’s Eve, most young people who live far from their parents would choose to return to their home towns. Once they got home, they would join their families in traditional worshipping rituals, in visits to their ancestors’ gravesites as well as the preparation of traditional meals - which often include signature dishes such as banh chung or spring rolls. Aside from that, young Vietnamese people also help their parents with the cleaning and decoration of their family’s houses – often with peach or apricot blossoms, as this symbolizes ‘leaving behind the unpleasant things’ and ‘refreshing the house’ for the upcoming year. Spirituality also plays a big part, as many young people go to pagodas and temples on this holiday to pray for a new year full of blessings and good fortune.
Lunar New Year in the ‘new normal’
Nonetheless, all of this could change this year around. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected many countries around the world in unprecedented ways, in Vietnam is no exception. According to the General Statistics Office, by December 2020, 32.1 million workers 15 and above have been negatively impacted by the pandemic; 69.9% faced income reductions, 39.9% had to cut working hours and take time off work, and about 14% had to stop working altogether. Working on holidays to relieve financial hardships is therefore expected to become a more popular trend this year: It was reported that 70% of workers in Ho Chi Minh are not planning to return to their home town this year. Not only that, with the recent outbreaks, especially in Quang Ninh and Hai Duong, chances for workers to return home or travel are getting slimmer.
In light of these difficulties, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has affirmed that relevant authorities shall strive to stamp out these new outbreaks as soon as possible, so that the people can enjoy the Lunar New Year holiday in peace. Likewise, in the Government’s regular meeting – January 2021, the Prime Minister stressed that one of the core tasks in the upcoming day is to ensure no one goes without a Lunar New Year holiday./.
By Quy An