Everybody had new clothes and the young women and girls always seemed especially pretty.
Food was prepared days in advance as no cooking was allowed during the three days of festivities. No cleaning either. The house was thoroughly cleaned until it was spotless. One could not of course greet the New Year in old clothes or a dirty house. All debts had to be paid off. It was very bad luck to carry old debts over into the New Year as well. Money was given to children in small red envelopes. Always new bank notes.
There was a strict ritual of presenting offerings on the family alter. One had to greet the deceased and later bid them farewell. Much incense was burnt. I've always found the smell pleasant. I've never found it much use against mosquitoes as some people have said though. It was important who the first visitor was. There was a day for visiting family and another for visiting friends. One hoped that one's first visitor was the richest or most successful member of the family.As we had earlier celebrated Christmas, and to a lesser extent the occidental New Year this was another most pleasurable addition.
I knew a teacher, German married to a Vietnamese, who in 1968 had sent the family off somewhere and shut herself in her apartment for a long session of house cleaning. When fighting broke out for control of a strategic bridge not far away she just thought it was fireworks. These were often accompanied by automatic arms fire. I thought it a strange time to be alone. Perhaps a familly row. Women often set about strenuous housework when this happened. I know KC would start to wash the curtains or do something utterly useless when very angry. I did think the woman rather stupid though not to have understood what was happening for two or three days. Did she never listen to the radio? Most strange?
Some people seemed to spend a lot of time gambling but I never took part.
This particular year our maid went back to her village and we were alone.