In Vietnam, Tet always comes in winter. Nonetheless, in Australia, it falls in summer as jacaranda trees bloom their purple blossoms. Brisbane, where I lived and followed a training course, is the third most populous city in Australia. The city was named after the Brisbane River on which it is located.

During the Tet holiday, Australians continue working and students are ready to start their new school year. However, for the Vietnamese community, they always feel homesick. Thus, Vietnamese markets here supply candies, jams, “banh chung” (square glutinous rice cake) - a traditional cake of Vietnamese people during Tet, and Vietnamese fruits to meet the shopping demands of Vietnamese expats.

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"Ao dai" shown in Brisbane

Feelings of homesick, relatives, and friends are common among people who live far away from home, especially during the Tet holiday. However, for me, it was also a good time to explore Vietnamese traditional festive days in another country. Most  of the Vietnam-born people settled in Brisbane after 1975. All of them always think that that they are Vietnamese. When they knew we are Vietnamese students, they wholeheartedly supported us in daily life. We felt like we were at home.

According to Ms. Minh Trang, who came to Australia since 1995, on the occasion of Tet, overseas Vietnamese gathered, regardless of their native villages, ethnic groups, and religions, to organize joint activities to celebrate the festival.

Despite being far away from home for many years, the Vietnamese community in the city educate their descendants on culture, history, traditions of the nation, communicate with each other in Vietnamese, and open Vietnamese language classes so that the Fatherland is always in their heart and mind.

Though Vietnamese people still have to work as usual during Tet holiday, they still spend weekend days to celebrate e Tet s, including lion dances and musical performances. They also join a fashion show with colorful “ao dai” (Vietnamese traditional long dresses). Especially, the food stalls introduce Vietnamese specialties, such as “pho” (beef noodle), “nem lui” (spring rolls with grilled pork patties), and “bun mam” (deliciously stinky fermented fish noodle soup). The spring fair offers an opportunity for Vietnamese people in Australia to meet and extend Tet wishes to each other.

At the Lunar New Year’s Eve party, we, Vietnamese students in Australia, gathered to share stories on our families and native villages, sang spring songs together, and enjoyed prepared dishes like “bun cha” (vermicelli and grilled meat), Hanoi fired spring rolls, and other kinds of noodles. When the clock rung in a new year, their homesickness was intensified. They called their family relatives to extend  them Tet greetings. Some longed for home to tears. Then on the next day, their pace of life returns as usual .

I studied in Australia for a year. I have enjoyed many Tet holidays in Vietnam but the memories about welcoming Tet in Australia are always in my mind.

Written by Nguyen Thi Thuy Ai

Translated by Minh Anh