3,2,1 Chuc Mung Nam Moi or in English Happy New Year!

A beautiful firework display over the Saigon River can be seen from all over. I, Julianne Costa, a female singer with el-live Productions am lucky enough to have spent 2 Lunar New Year in Vietnam.

The first year, I was just a tourist walking around the beautiful Nguyen Hue flower street. During Lunar New Year or “Tet” as it is called in Vietnam. Millions of people crowd to this street to see rare flowers brought from all over Vietnam in the shape of that year’s celebrated theme. It is a very special celebration, but coming from Los Angeles crowds of people reminds me of the 405 and 101 interchanges, and I look for the first exit out of there.

An authentic celebration

For my 2nd “Tet” I spent it with some local friends of mine in their families village. Talk about an experience! When I arrived at my friend’s home I was greeted with warm smiles, welcoming hugs, and complete generosity. A one-bedroom home raised a kindhearted family of 9 well-rounded people. With no kitchen table or chairs, they promptly set out 2 long plastic table cloths on the floor…. this was our dinner table. A glass of beer with ice was placed in my hand. “Mot, Hai, Ba, Dzo!” (meaning 1,2,3 CHEERS!) everyone shouted! As they do not have a refrigerator ice is a special treat they buy for this day.

After being there for several hours, and many “Mot, Hai, Ba, Dzo’s” later a washroom is needed! A wild chicken flapping around had moved into the restroom and scared the daylights out of my friend and drummer. Laughter erupted in the room! Tons of local dishes immediately followed. Black chicken, Mango shrimp salad, rice balls, cabbage, spring rolls, pork spread, pho, and because they knew a westerner was coming… french fries all covered our “table”. The food was so delicious and spicy!

The spirit of giving

I was so moved by the happy giving spirit of these people. When I asked what I could bring for the celebration they said to bring nothing. I learned that they work from 6:30 am to 11 pm every day for an equivalent of 5 USD a day. The family told me for this work and pay they are grateful. They have everything they need. It hit me then how much money it must have cost them to feed and drink my friends and me. As we left their home the mother held my hand giving me her toothless smile wishing me a year of luck, prosperity, and health. My heart filled with love and wishing to meet these people again someday.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination

On the car ride home I had this thought. I did not feel sorry for these people who had so little because they were truly happy. This kind of happiness and generosity I had never seen before. Why is it that we live in a world of always needing more? Why is it that… wherever we are in our lives is just a stepping stone, and not truly embracing our life as it is at that moment?

Could it be that if we live in a world where happiness is not where you are going, but where you are that peace is there? Maybe as we think of this coming Lunar New Year we can reach into our hearts, homes, and pockets a little more and need a little less.

Julianne Costa
White Bread