Year of the Rabbit? Not so fast! Vietnam’s Lunar New Year to celebrate the cat

Year of the Rabbit? Not so fast! Vietnam’s Lunar New Year to celebrate the cat

HANOI, Jan 20 (Reuters) – As China, Japan and other East Asian countries prepare to celebrate the start of the Lunar Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, the Vietnamese people will be an exception – welcoming instead the year of the cat.

There is no official explanation as to when and why the Vietnamese adopted the cat instead of the rabbit.

Another smaller difference in the otherwise almost identical celebrations of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac is Vietnam’s adoption of the ubiquitous water buffalo in the Year of the Ox.

Ngo Huong Giang, a Hanoi-based cultural researcher, said one of the reasons for opting for the cat could be that the term for rabbit in the Chinese astrological classification system is pronounced “mao” in Mandarin, which sounds like the Vietnamese word for cat. . Raising rabbits is also not common in Vietnam.

What is certain is that the Vietnamese do not want to change their tradition.

“He doesn’t have the same power as a cat,” Hanoi resident Ngo Quy Dung said of the rabbit, proudly noting that he was born 60 years ago in the year of the cat.

Another Hanoi resident, Nguyen Kim Chi, 64, agreed.

“The cat looks more majestic because it also looks like a little tiger,” she said, while snapping photos next to a large cat statue in the capital’s Central Park.

Cat sculptures have been popping up in public spaces across the country ahead of the Lunar New Year, along with a myriad of cat charms and gadgets on sale at street stalls.

Some cafes keep their cats in their outlets to attract customers.

For most Vietnamese, the cat is a family friend that helps protect crops and food from rodents, while driving away evil spirits and bringing good luck, said researcher Giang. Despite this, cats can still appear on the menu in rural areas, although authorities have banned the practice.

Additional reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Francesco Guarascio, Robert Birsel

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