Spring has sprung in southern Vietnam as it ushers in the Lunar New Year

13:00 | 02/02/2022 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - Although for most European and American tourists, January and February are the height of winter, spring has sprung as Vietnam’s south waits to welcome the Lunar New Year (Tet) that starts in 2022 on February 1.

The Sa Dec flower village

The bustling atmosphere that precedes the Tet holiday can be felt while travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to the Western region. Watermelons, ornamental flowers, and fruit cakes are sold along National Highway 1. On both sides of the highway, yellow apricot blossoms have budded, and daisies have begun to bloom.

Preparations for Tet start early in the south because farmers must balance the celebrations and family reunions with the cycles of nature as they hope for bumper crops of rice, fruit trees, shrimps and fish.

About two weeks before Tet, people can be seen watering and meticulously trimming ornamental apricot gardens to ensure the flowers bloom right on the New Year's Eve, which Vietnamese view as a good omen.

Floating markets are busier than usual

Women family members prepare sticky rice, beans and banana leaves to make banh tet (cylindrical sticky rice cake). The market stalls overflow with custard apple, Siamese coconut, papaya, and mango, fruit associated with Tet and good luck.

The women prepare the meal on the final day of the outgoing lunar year to worship their ancestral grandparents, serving braised pork with eggs, pickles, banh tet, and bitter melon soup.

Tet dishes in Southern Vietnam during the Lunar New Year celebrations

The Lunar New Year in the south is also particularly busy in the floating flower markets. The Vinh Long spring flower market on the Tien River is one of the largest and most beautiful markets in the Mekong Delta. Ornamental flowers from Sa Dec flower village (Dong Thap Province), Dong Phu, Cho Lach (Ben Tre Province), from An Binh and Binh Hoa Phuoc isles arrive from around the country and join the apricot flowers, confetti, daisies, marigolds, ornamental kumquats, bonsai and many other varieties.

In the southwestern province of Dong Thap, the Sa Dec flower market is also busy, especially in the 60ha Tan Quy Dong flower village - one of the largest ornamental flower centers in the south where 600 households and 3,600 workers make their living growing flowers and ornamental plants.

Boats laden with flowers and ornamental plants attract photographers and tourists. Nearby Lai Vung tangerine village offers the bright orange peels often used to worship ancestors on New Year's Day. The fruit ripens in the last days of the lunar year and traders arrive to load the goods. Lai Vung mandarin oranges have created their own brand and are sold to the central region and also further to the northern region every Tet season.

Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho City

From the 20th day of the 12th lunar month, the floating markets are busier than usual preparing goods and agricultural products waiting to depart for distant regions. Among them are Cai Rang, Phong Dien (Can Tho), Nga Bay (Hau Giang), Cai Be (Tien Giang), Long Xuyen, Chau Doc (An Giang) and Nga Nam (Soc Trang). As Tet draws nearer, thousands of small and large boats gather on the intricate canal system to exchange goods, forming queues of two to three kilometers on the rivers, creating a colorful, bustling atmosphere.

Tourists from other, colder parts of the country favor the rich countryside of the south, the fishing and fragrant sticky wine. The New Year journey south also takes tourists to An Giang Province to pray for blessings at Ba Chua Xu Temple, and to the “poetic land” of Ha Tien Province to visit sceneries, swim in the sea and watch the splendid sunset ushering in the new year.

Ngoc Thao