Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today the nations of the far east celebrate the start of the lunar year. In Vietnam it is celebrated as the Festival of the first day or Tet Nguyen Dan. In the old days, as with all major cultural events, the place of the monarch was absolutely central to the celebrations. The Imperial Palace and all major buildings and monuments within the Holy Citadel in Hue would be decorated with the dragon emblem of the Nguyen dynasty in preparation for the Tết holiday. In the early morning hours offerings of tea, fruit, incense, rice and peach blossoms would be set out at the altars of the imperial ancestors and in the imperial temples and pagodas. The Imperial Family, high ranking mandarins and other assorted dignitaries would assemble in front of the Palace of Perfect Peace where the Emperor sat on the Golden Dragon throne. After the Emperor accepted their best wishes for happiness, prosperity and longevity they would kowtow before him five times. From the citadel walls cannon salutes were fired, bells rang and the imperial court musicians began to play. Efforts are made to obtain good fortune throughout the year to come and everyone, from the monarch to the common subject, hoped that their home spirits would make a good report on their behalf to the Jade Emperor in heaven so that blessing would come in the new year.

A happy Year of the Tiger to everyone! Chúc mừng năm mới!

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