The best regulated European household is devoid of servants during the Tet: for no member must be absent from the great family gathering at the festival, nor will he miss, when that duty is accomplished, any of the fun and merrymaking which follow.
A friend of mine was painting a poor Annamese cripple who used to beg on the roadside not far from her house. She gave him twenty cents a day, a sum which was wealth for him. She fed him, moreover, whenever he came, and good meat had probably never passed his lips before.
The first day of the Tet he did not appear, and she sent her boy to the miserable hovel where he lived to ask after him. His answer came back that as it was the Tet he could not sit, but that as soon as it was over he would return.
He evidently considered that during such an important season his liberty was of greater value than the shelter, food, and payment of his benefactress.
Vietnam 100 years ago: table manners
Vietnam 100 years ago: chewing the betel-nut
Vietnam 100 years ago: how to become a mandarin
Vietnam 100 years ago: religion and superstitions
Vietnam 100 years ago: worshiping ancestors
Text: Gabrielle Vassal
On & off duty in Annam, London 1910
Photo: from archive of Mr.Truong Minh Tien
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