HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese staff members of level-2 field hospital No 3 in South Sudan have recently erected a nêu tree (New Year’s tree) to kick off the traditional Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration.
Vietnamese people in the old days put up tall bamboo poles with red garment strips hanging on them during Tết, believing that the poles prevented ghosts and monsters from entering the community during the holiday. The tradition of raising the nêu pole remains alive today in many villages and homes around the country.
The nêu tree is a sacred symbol that wards off evil spirits and misfortunes of the old year,
The Vietnamese peacekeepers in South Sudan used a discarded antenna pole to make the 10-metre nêu tree and decorated it with strings of colourful flags and ornaments recycled from nylon. A national flag was placed atop the nêu tree with a wind chime made of bamboo hung beneath.
The traditional tree can be seen from far away, capturing the interest of local people, UN staff at the mission, patients, and visitors.
Vietnamese staff members of level-2 field hospital No 3 in South Sudan have also gathered to cook bánh chưng, the traditional cake of Tết, together with international friends.
They faced many shortages of materials like dong leaves to wrap the cakes or stuffing as South Sudanese don’t eat pork; however, the Vietnamese peacekeepers expressed their overwhelming happiness on seeing the first chưng cakes cooked successfully.
“This is also my first time wrapping cakes with banana leaves. In such a special situation, I felt much happier and more excited to complete this mission with my teammates,” said Dr Hoàng Xuân Trường.
“We eagerly waited for the chưng cake to come out of the oven after ten hours of cooking. 100 finished cakes, including both vegetarian and pork stuffing, will be shared among us and donated to surrounding units.
“Making chưng cakes is a meaningful activity, not only to ensure the proper celebration of Tết but also bonding for Vietnamese peacekeepers in South Sudan, nearly 1,000km away from Việt Nam.”
“I was able to wrap three chưng cakes by myself after being guided by Vietnamese friends,” said Pakistani Major Yaseen. “I was curious to know that the cakes are boiled within up to ten hours and excited to know that I would be presented with a cake wrapped by myself. I couldn’t wait to taste the cakes of my Vietnamese friends,” he said. VnExpress News
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