By Edward Tick
Sono onorato di poter pubblicare qui un testo sulla celebrazione del Tet, che il mio amico e terapista olistico Edward Tick ha presentato in Vietnam, in diverse conferenze e incontri di guarigione con veterani di guerra vietnamesi e americani. Sono davvero felice di offrire questo bellissimo testo ai lettori di DiscorsivaMente.
I am honoured to publish here a text about the celebration of Tet, which my friend and holistic therapist Edward Tick delivered in Vietnam in cenferences and healing meetings with former Vietnamese and American veterans of the war. I am delighted to offer this beautiful text to the readers of DiscorsivaMente.
“The first month is given to Tet at home,” sings a traditional VNese folk song. Viet Nam has been an agrarian rice growing culture since the Bronze Age when farmers beat bronze drums to call the Dragon Father to bring the rains. So traditional Vietnamese country folk do not take weekends off like city dwellers or Westerners. Their agricultural cycle knows no days off. But Tet is different. A full week off with rituals and celebrations every day to give the people, the land, the spirits renewal and strength for the year to come. Tet is literally the lunar new year. To the Vietnamese, Tet is our Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Memorial Day, Arbor Day, and numerous religious and secular holidays all rolled into one great and joyous celebration and affirmation of life, love, hope and longevity.
Tet is a week-long Sabbath for the peasants who have toiled all year in the rice paddies and jungles and on the sea. It is a time of rest, joy, family connectedness and celebration. It is a time to enjoy the coming of spring, to restore ourselves and the land, to pray to Buddha, pay homage to ancestors, and strengthen family and village ties.
In essence Tet celebrates the communion of human beings with nature. In the eternal cycle of seasons, Tet offers a restful pause for both farmer and his land, uniting them and reuniting all our human connections.
In this period of universal renewal, Vietnamese feel a fountain of youth surging within. This leads to wonderful and socially healthy customs: During Tet all actions are meant to be pure and beautiful; one takes care not to show anger or be rude; antagonists put aside their quarrels and smile.
Tet is a family holiday. Though there are services in the pagoda for this most important of full moons, most rituals are performed at home. Vietnamese living all over the world strive to migrate home for Tet. Extended families gather in the ancestral or head-of-family home. Children vow to behave and receive gifts. Friends and relatives lavish good wishes upon each other. The Vietnamese say, “We eat Tet.”
The ancestors are a critical part of Tet. They are invited to return to the family. Incense is lit on their altar several times a day along with food, flowers and betel nut offerings. Graves are visited and cleaned before the year ends.
Entire villages share the celebration and joy. Alms are distributed to the poor. Every act, every ritual is aimed at renewal of spirit. Each act during Tet is believed to have consequences for the coming year. As we celebrate the New Year we are shaping our karmas.
Children are involved and behave. They refuse to go to bed but stay up until midnight, the moment of passage into the New Year. At that moment the sky explodes in fireworks. The father lights incense to the ancestors. The offering tray is placed on the altar, later to be taken down and shared as “god food” at the Tet meal. Then parents leave for the pagoda where they will pick a twig from a tree on its grounds for prosperity for the coming year.
All living members of the family gather and ritually, respectfully honor one another. Viet Nam honors elders and women and extended families of three and four generations often live together. They gift each other the most beautiful flowers. They preach piety, respect, loyalty and faithfulness. Grandma passes out gifts of coins. All light incense again and kowtow together before the family altar.
Then families visit other relatives, friends, teachers, and health providers. They drench each other in good wishes, share lotus tea and fruit, and move on to the next visit. Often women go to the temples to receive an oracle from the soothsayer.
On the fourth day the family offers a farewell meal to the ancestors. When people return to their daily tasks, they do so with a renewed spirit. In ritual they burn votives. Ceremonially the farmer plows his first furrow, the scholar his first pen brush, the merchant her first customer. All are omens of luck for the coming year. Life resumes.
Each country in Asia celebrates the lunar New Year, but each is different so that it is institutionalized in ways that conform to its culture’s psyches, values and practices. Tet is the festival epitomizing Vietnamese culture and expressing its soul. Vietnamese Tet is heralded as one of the world’s most popular, humanistic and joyous festivals. It connects all people with the earth, each other, their families, their village, their traditions their ancestors. It brings reconciliation. It restores good behavior. Tet infuses us with the joy of spring and of communion with nature and each other. After Tet we are recharged and can enter joyously, creatively and optimistically into a new year.
May it be so for all.