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Animated Hanoi preparing for Tet

Pre-Tet days are the most colourful time of Hanoi when the capital changes its coat into a new vital color of spring and joy.

Covid-19 is dimming the Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) atmosphere of Hanoi a little bit, but the city still appears lively these days when Tet drawing near as people are preparing for the year’s largest traditional festival. The time honored costume of Vietnamese people is depicted through the lens of photographer Hieu Tran.

Peach blossoms are on sale for Tet. Photo: Hieu Tran

Hanoi, the thousand-year-old capital, has always been an attraction on the tourist map of Vietnam. Visitors fall in love with Hanoi for its historical sites, old architectural works and long-standing traditional cultures. 

Hanoi streets are adorned with Red flags. Photo: Hieu Tran. 

Moreover, Hanoi also wins many hearts for its simple and peaceful life that you can see right in the streets, alleyways, corners, and villages. The ordinary daily life is the charm of the capital city.

Famous sites of Hanoi such as the Old Quarters, Hoan Kiem Lake, Long Bien Bridge, Temple of Literature, St. Joseph Cathedral, Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoa Lo Prison, among others are familiar images of the capital and attract a lot of tourists. 

A Tet ritual: buy a little pack of salt for a lucky Lunar New Year. 

However, some others choose to get lost in the small streets to observe and discover another beauty of the city and the people.

One of them, photographer Hieu Tran, who during days wanders around the corners of Hanoi and caught some of these beautiful snapshots of Hanoians preparing to celebrate the coming New Year.

Hanoi is beautiful for its simple things: Cooking Banh Chung (Vietnamese traditional cake for Tet) on the streets. 

It comes from the national flags hanging in front of houses as a way to together welcome the important event of everyone. It also comes from peach flowers, a symbolic tree for display during Tet, which blooms in gardens and flower markets, creating a lively atmosphere of the bustling trading.

Thuoc duoc or Dahlia flowers for Tet decoration.

Peach also embellishes shops, restaurants, hotels, commercial centres, and indispensably, at home. Calligraphy and lanterns for decoration on this occasion also wear some streets like Hang Ma, Van Mieu, Quoc Tu Giam in red.

As red is the symbol of joy and luck in the belief of Oriental culture, it shows the wish of people for a good new year.

Besides red, green is the color of Hanoi this time, coming Chung cake, a traditional cake made of sticky rice, green bean and pork, that people are cooking. Chung cake is one of the typical foods of Tet that is to enjoy or give to families and friends as a small gift. 

The Banh Chung is on sale in every local markets or in the streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter area.

In the old time, members of family, friends or even neighbors usually gathered besides a large pot to together cook Chung cake in days.Today, not many people do it but some still.

A vendor is selling cilantro in the streets. Hanoian believes that having bath with cilantro at the last day of the twelve month of the Lunar calendar might help wash out all the dirt and bad luck.

It also comes from street vendors of cilantro that is used to shower on the last day of the old year with the belief of washing out all the dirt and bad luck during the year to be clean to welcome the new one.

Another important color of Hieu Tran’s photo is the diverse tones of life such as animated markets filled with vendors and buyers for traditional food, fruits, flowers for Tet; busy stores serving the last clients of the year, crowded streets more crowded s, queue of people lining up in front of street barbershop for cutting the hair hoping for good look for New Year, calligraphy masters busy writing letters and so on.

A calligraphy master with his little clients. 
A busy barbershop at the days before Tet.

In fact, all of these are common activities on the occasion every year. However, they appear very vivid and full of tradition and culture, showing the festive atmosphere of Tet where everyone is excited to prepare and look forward to the New Year.

Hanoi's streets turn to be empty on the first day of the first lunar month of the year.
Then, the Tet holiday is coming to town. 

Thuy Duong (Hanoitimes)

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