Amiad Horowitz winning the first prize in the second writing contest  on protecting the Party's ideological foundation, combating wrongful and hostile views

I remember the first Tet holiday that I spent in Hanoi. It was incredible watching a capital city with millions of people changes over night. One day, everyone is rushing to get ready for the holiday, the roads are packed, noise is everywhere and a day a later Hanoi becomes so peaceful and quiet. In many ways it felt like I was seeing Hanoi go back in time; returning to the small town feel that must have been prevalent a few short decades ago.

My Vietnamese friends were excited to share the holiday with me. The night Tet began, they invited me to join them at Hoan Kiem Lake to watch the fireworks. The atmosphere was one of happiness and celebration as everyone looked at the colorful light show in the sky above Hanoi’s historic center. On a normal day, the old quarter streets that are full of the sounds of motors and honking, but on that night, there were only the sounds of happy people enjoying the start of the holiday.

The next morning, I woke up early to wonder around Hanoi and take in all the sights of Tet. I remember seeing families dressed in their nice clothing, walking to visit their families. This reminded me of the Jewish holidays that I grew up celebrating with my family, in which we all dressed up and walked to share festive meals with our relatives.

Amiad Horowitz in an event (Photo: NVCC)

It occurred to me that while Tet is a uniquely special Vietnamese holiday, there were many aspects about that are universal and that all people, no matter their nationality or ethnicity, could enjoy and appreciate. It is also helpful that the Vietnamese people are always so friendly and welcoming. Everyone I knew was so eager to invite me share Tet with them and their family.

I have now lived in Vietnam for over a decade, and I still look forward to the Tet holiday every year. In the last 11 years, Hanoi has only grown, developed, and modernized. Yet every year, when the Luna New Year arrives, the city is once again transformed and sent back in time to celebrate the traditional holiday.

I look forward to joining my “adopted” Vietnamese family for the Tet evening. We eat a wonderful meal, sing karaoke, and take pictures together. Every year, the whole family waits to see their mom come down the stairs in her new "Ao dai" (traditional long dress of the Vietnamese people) that she got special for the Tet holiday. Then we all gather together to take pictures and it warms my heart that I am included in the family gathering.

The next day I join the family as they visit the pagodas and temples in their neighborhood. While I am not a religious or spiritual person, I enjoy seeing all the families together celebrating the holiday. I also take time to always show my respect and the alters to Ho Chi Minh, because his teachings are not only important to Vietnam and the Vietnamese people but are also relevant to so many people around the world, including myself.

For Amiad Horowitz, experiences in Vietnam are unforgettable. (Photo: VNA)

While I understand why so many foreigners living in Vietnam use the Tet holiday vacation time to travel abroad, I hope more of them will choose to stay and experience the holiday. I am sure if they do, they too will have a wonderful experience and create new memories that will last a lifetime.

AMIAD HOROWITZ (Editor of Online Political Theory Journal of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics)