First of all, this year the Lunar New Year falls on Valentine’s Day. It is unusual for the two days to be on the same day! What a coincidence between the Chinese lunar and occidental calendars. All countries in South East Asia celebrate Chinese New Year. This is the biggest celebration of the year in Vietnam. Vietnam has officially two weeks vacation, which is winter break for schools, government workers, etc. Many businesses close for that period of time because everyone wants to go somewhere to spend time with their families. City people go to the country side and country people come to the cities. More on how Vietnamese celebrate New Year is here: http://www.askviet.com/Travel_to_Vietnam/Popular_Festivals/Vietnamese_New_Year.htm
In Vietnam parents or elders give children “lucky money” which is real money in red envelopes. It is also common to give each other green “packages”, which are rice flour with sweet meet inside enveloped in banana leaves. Holiday trees are set up in all houses. In Ho Chi Minh, besides serious decoration through the city with lanterns, billboards and tiger figures, a whole street is dedicated to special flower arrangements. Here in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia we went for the afternoon tea but were told that some businesses close at 5PM due to the holiday which is five days long. In Malaysia people give each other mandarin oranges to wish good year. Here is a good article about Hong Kong Chinese New Year: http://www.asianewsnet.net/news.php?id=10053 More is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year
Winter 2010 Olympics started today. So we watched the beginning of the opening ceremony live on TV at 10AM local time on Saturday (16 hours ahead of Vancouver). It is amazing that somewhere it was still Friday evening.
Happy Chinese New Year 2010!
And Happy Valentine’s Day!