We love a good history warp, and we’re excited to have found these photos to send us on a journey back in time. How uncanny it is, the resemblance of Saigon back then, to now. What better way to see how Saigon has gracefully aged than through the way the beautiful city celebrates the most important time of the year: Tet.
1. Nguyen Hue’s Flower Street
Every year, Nguyen Hue street transforms into a beautiful sea of blooms. Way back when this looked like a huge gathering of old-school carts and vintage bikes stocked with plants and petals of all sorts. The simple pots and baskets add an element of romanticism to the rustic scene….
Fast forward to today, and conceptually Nguyen Hue is exactly the same. However, nowadays, we get a wider variety of flowers and other elaborate embellishments. Nguyen Hue’s flower street is one of the most iconic places to visit over Tet and is a site that has clearly stood the test of time.
2. Purchase those Petals!
While we’re on the topic of blooms, of course, these are made available for purchase. Through the ages, flowers have always been a sentimental gift. Buying flowers back then meant the purchase of a modest bouquet. Today, not only are you able to buy a traditional bunch but entire pot plants for your home.
3. Watermelon… Carvings?
Picture back then: a barn of watermelons piled on top of each other waiting for purchase from the next lucky patron. Now: these watermelons can be seen neatly presented on organized shelving units with intricate carvings to mark the occasion. How’s that for edible art!
4. Child’s Play
So, back in the day, safety was not monitored as closely as it is now and kids used to get their hands into fireworks (what?!). Now, fire hazards are left to the experts and kids can instead be seen celebrating the holiday playing with their new toys.
5. To Market, To Market
Of course, in preparation for the Tet holiday, families will stock up on food and grocery items. Back in the day, people would head to their simple neighborhood market for all their needs; which usually comprised of a small selection of essentials.
Fast forward to now, and markets stock absolutely everything you could need to prepare for Tet celebrations. Markets of today cater to both your basic needs, as well as huge varieties of readily packaged gifts and spoils for family, friends and any visitors you may encounter during the lunar new year.
6. The Lion Dance
The lion dance is a traditional dance that marks the arrival of the lunar new year. Performers will mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume under the belief that this will bring luck and good fortune.Often mistaken for the dragon dance, a quick way to distinguish between the two is that the identities of the lion dancers are hidden beneath the costume, whereas dragon dancer performers can be seen as the dragon is supported by poles. In addition, the dragon dance is performed by a number of dancers, and the lion dance calls for just two.
If we take a look back in time, the lion dance would be performed on the street with simple costumes and props. Now, the lion dance is a truly stunning display of skill. The dancers leap upon poles with their impressive acrobatics and exceptional coordination as two people take the role of a single lion. A show that you don’t want to miss!
7. Tet Street Style
Some things never change. Vietnamese people will celebrate tet by wearing new clothes. It makes sense, as it promotes the beginning of a fresh start to a new year. The same goes for haircuts, so make sure you call your salon to book ahead!
8. The Ageless Ao Dai
The Ao Dai is the traditional tunic of Vietnam. While we’ve noted that the wearing of fresh threads is common practice over the holiday period, it is inevitable that you will see the appearance of the nation’s traditional dress. These beautiful tunics add to the formality of the festival atmosphere.
If you’re going to be in or around Saigon during Tet this year, make sure that you keep an eye out for the items we’ve mentioned on this list! We can’t wait to get our hands on a carved watermelon and some fresh fashion. Happy Tet!