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Happy Lunar New Year!
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Offering red envelopes is the Lunar New Year’s most valued tradition. This custom is similar to Christmas’ gift exchanging and Halloween’s candy galore. The only difference is the fact red envelopes are essentially cash giveaways. Each lucky packet is stuffed with an unspecified amount of money -- usually an even number. Some people like to vary the amount of money stuffed in their lucky packets. If one is lucky, he or she might receive one with the highest amount.

The Vietnamese welcome in the Lunar New Year with a symphony of firecracker explosions. At the front door of each household hang rolls of firecrackers. The amount of firecrackers depends on how much the household can afford. When the clock strikes midnight, all the firecrackers will be lighten up simultaneously creating the most disharmonious of sound. The explosions are meant to scare away evil spirits and bad lucks. This long-standing tradition was recently banned by the authorities.

People spend most of the 15-day celebration period eating a lot of sweets and consuming food with a lot of fat. A typical assortment of sweets includes sugar-preserved lotus seeds, sugar-coated ground nuts, ginger jam, marmalade and sugar cookies. In addition to the sweets are sticky rice stuffed with fatty pork, dumplings, fried fish and fat-rich cakes. Sweetly flavored fruits such as mango and oranges are also New Year’s favorites.

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