Flowers for Tet – The Vietnamese New Year
In the last week things have really begun to pick up in the lead up to Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. One of my favorite things to observe are the proliferation of flowers around the city. The flower market becomes a hive of activity – pictures from last year here. Cycling sellers then come downtown to sell their flowers and peach blossom branches.
The peach blossom or Mai is one of the most beautiful flowers – a wonderful symbol of the coming spring. Companies and wealthy people often have huge, old, bonsai like trees, which they rent every year, while the average person will just buy a branch.
I decided to go on a Friday afternoon mission to pick up a peach branch for our apartment and this year I also got a perky little Kumquat bush. A police man called out to my Vietnamese friend as we cruised along on her motorcycle that all the crazy foreigner needed now was Banh Trung (the special Tet cake made of sticky rice and pork wrapped in a banana leaf), which I already have sitting in my fridge!
The Kumquat trees are as ubiquitous as the Christmas tree is in Europe or the States. On Saturday, as I ran with Tala past the kumquat fields on the outskirts, the roads were clogged with families going to dig out their trees which they will have reserved a month or so in advance.
There are also many cut flowers including lilies, stocks, larkspur, chrysanthemums, dahlias, roses and sweet william. Below is one of the many bicycles outside our apartment simply smothered in flowers. Prices have already started shooting up as it gets closer and closer to Tet. More information about Tet and photos from last here.