Reflections and stories on six months of life, culture, food and friendship in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Years Anthem

To mark the occasion of the arrival of the Year of the Pig I offer up the official Vietnamese New Year Anthem by everyone's favourite Swedish foursome. I'm sure there is a entire canon of traditional Tet songs, but these were hardly in evidence last year at Tet. Instead the Vietnamese universe seems to be obsessed by one song, and one song only. In fact the song serves the purpose of both New Years, Western and lunar, the result being about almost two solid months of Abba on replay, not just two discrete flare-ups as you might think. I've never been a big Abba fan but I must admit the brilliance of this song. It has an insidious way of lodging itself in your brain, particularly if you are trapped on a bus from Haiphong with the video on a loop for over an hour.

As for the video, check out the state of Ikea circa 1979, not to mention the eye shadow, and the innovative Lazy Susan filming effect. My big question: what's he looking at out the window?

It's an appropriate video to be posting today for other reasons too, since I'm feeling that post-party effect (though I'm not lounging around on my chesterfield in a party dress). Jon, Koen and I pulled off a full-on Hanoi Tet meal complete with ga luoc (poached chicken with lime leaf and ginger dipping sauce), nem (Hanoi style deep fried spring rolls), banh chung with pickled leeks (purchased not made from scratch), dau phu sot ca chua (tofu in tomato sauce), nom kho bo (green papaya salad with spicy dried beef), cha lua (Vietnamese sausage), a pork and radish soup, authentic green tea from Thai Nguyen, followed by fruit and mut Tet (candy). Oh yeah and we polished off my only bottle of Nep Moi (Vietnamese rice vodka made of young rice, smells like hazelnut and packs a whopping 40%). I think I'm ready to take on Iron Chef Vietnam.

As it turns out, our celebration was 24 hours too late! I discovered that Tet is sometimes a day earlier than the Chinese New Year, and this was one of those rare years. It's something to do with Vietnam being in a different time zone from China, although I can't imagine how that one hour makes any difference whatsoever. When I got through to a few friends in Hanoi on their Saturday morning, I was told "Tet roi, Tet roi!". I was assured though that the Tet in the Vietnamese diaspora however has come to conform with the Chinese date. Oi gioi oi, nothing is ever simple!

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Blogger will said...

abba cheesefest!! :) ur menu sounds tantalizing.. u outdid yourselves. i think i am speaking for others when i say that we want to see visuals of the feast too!

happy tet and happy year of the pig:)


p.s. thanks for the correction re: lion dance vs. dragon dance; i am such an embarassment to chinese culture:p

10:11 PM

Anonymous MrDX said...

This song is the New Years anthem of Vietnam indeed. It has been around for like 15-20 years and I'm not sure if there's a day that ppl finally get bored of it.

By the way, I would like you to visit this web site: When you have time please have a look around and see how you could contribute to the site, as I'm sure your knowledge and experience of Hanoi's restaurant and eating places will be a valuable source to other expats.

8:02 AM

Blogger Khanh said...

I'm heading to Vietnam in 2 months, hopefully to stay in Hanoi 6 or plus months. I find your blog informative and very funny.

Speaking as someone from the Vietnamese diaspora in Canada, we don't use the Chinese calendar to mark Tet, although we celebrate Tet on a convenient weekend either before or after the actual day. This year because it fell on the weekend we celebrated right on.

1:56 PM

Anonymous TuKhuyen said...

It's a nice entry about Vietnamese Tet holiday

9:27 PM


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