On Jan. 16, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s office in Ho Chi Minh City teamed up with some Vietnamese business operators to host a cultural exchange on the theme of Vietnamese and Taiwanese Lunar New Year customs. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for people to travel back and forth between Vietnam and Taiwan, so the day’s activities attracted owners and managers of many Taiwanese businesses operating in Vietnam to go and get an early taste of the Lunar New Year.
Vietnamese and Taiwanese alike worship their ancestors and sit down for New Year’s Eve meals on Lunar New Year’s Eve, but some of the details are a little different. For example, when celebrating the New Year, Vietnamese people of all ages eat traditional square leaf-wrapped rice dumplings whose stuffing mainly consists of glutinous rice, pork and mung beans. Once prepared, the dumplings are boiled for more than 10 hours.
When worshiping their ancestors at Lunar New Year, Vietnamese people traditionally display some peach blossoms and prepare a five-fruit tray symbolizing yin and yang and the five elements. They also choose 12 kinds of dried and candied fruit, representing the months of the year, and place them in a candy bowl. The variously flavored dried and candied fruits represent the sour, sweet, bitter and spicy flavors of human life. The Vietnamese present these things along with the already-cooked square dumplings as offerings to their ancestors while praying for everything to go smoothly in the coming year.
Photo: CNA 照片：中央社
Chou Hsin-yi, director of the Tourism Bureau’s Ho Chi Minh City office, observed that Vietnam and Taiwan have many things in common culturally, and they both celebrate the lunar calendar New Year, which is also known as Spring Festival. In the past, Spring Festival was one of the busiest times for Vietnamese travelers to visit Taiwan, and that is why the bureau chose this moment to invite Vietnamese businesspeople to demonstrate the differences and similarities between Lunar New Year customs in the two countries.
The pandemic has led to general tourist traffic between Vietnam and Taiwan being cut off. To make sure that Vietnamese travelers would not forget about Taiwan during this time of sickness, Chou gave an introduction to the three major tourist events connected with Spring Festival and Lantern Festival in Taiwan, namely the Taiwan Lantern Festival, the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival and the Pingsi Sky Lantern Festival. Chou hopes that the pandemic will be over before too long and the travel business would be restored to its former prosperity.
Taiwan’s representative in Vietnam Richard Shih also spoke at the event. He said that there were more than 1.3 million trips between Vietnam and Taiwan in 2019, and more than a million Taiwanese are currently waiting to visit Vietnam. Shih said he hopes that traffic, travel and tourism between Vietnam and Taiwan will soon recover. He said that when flights are officially resumed, annual trips between the two countries are sure to head for the 2 million mark.
Photo: CNA 照片：中央社
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
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