People in South Vietnam have been preparing for the Tet, the Lunar New Year beginning on Saturday, 3 February.
People in South Vietnam have been preparing for the Tet, the Lunar New Year beginning on Saturday, 3 February. This year's celebrations will have a novel touch -- for many Vietnamese they will be the first they have ever celebrated in a state of peace.
The country has been torn by strife since the second world war. A whole generation has grown up, lived -- and often died -- without experiencing peace.
But when the celebrations begin on Saturday it will not be all gaiety. Vietnam is still a country where fighting can break out, despite the peace treaty.
Many families will remember lost relatives, and Tet brings back memories of 1968, when one of the biggest offensives of the whole war took place. Major attacks were made on every South Vietnamese stronghold, and the death tool was enormous.
SYNOPSIS: The Tet, the Lunar New Year starts today (Saturday 3 February) -- and nowhere do the celebrations have more significance than in South Vietnam.
It's the first festival in Vietnam since the declaration of peace. To many Vietnamese, it's the first festival they have ever celebrated in peace-time. Indo-China has been in the grip of war for a whole generation. After it shared the sufferings of all Asia in the Second World War, there came the lengthy battle to gain independence from the French. That conflict was followed by the struggle between the communists and a succession of United States-supported South Vietnamese governments.
Even now that peace has officially come to Vietnam, there are still reports of sporadic battles.
While the people shop for their New Year festivities, they know that the peace is fragile, that the politicians and the generals are still poised for battle rather than let the other side gain more ground before the international peace commission sorts out who controls which areas.
The Lunar New Year has another significance as an anniversary in Vietnam. It's the occasion when, in 1968, the communists launched the Tet offensive......An unexpected all-out attack on every South Vietnamese strategic point, which left an enormous death toll.