(PICTURE: A vendor selling the Tet trees in a park.)
Tet Holiday, the Chinese New Year, starts in Vietnam this weekend. As a casual observer, you would have thought the holiday started weeks ago because the traffic and overall level of madness has doubled around the city.
One sign that Tet is approaching is that the streets are lined with small orange tree/bush things. Although the fruit looks like oranges they're actually more in the lime family. Every family basically buys one of these trees and puts it in their house. Yeah, it's basically the Vietnamese equivalent of the Christmas Tree. Or perhaps the Christmas tree is the Christian equivalent of the Vietnamese/Chinese new year tree since I'm pretty sure China was celebrating New Years way before Jesus was born.
Last night as I was tutoring my next door neighbor, I commented that his orange-tree thingermerbob was quite nice. He told me that he and his father drove 10K to a farm to get their tree. He told me many people have the same tree every year and they keep it on a farm for basically 51 weeks out of the year and just pick it up for Tet. It's kind of like a distant relative you only see on Thanksgiving.