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The New Year Tree

The New Year TreeIn the countryside, preparations come to and end with the raising of the New Year tree or Cay Neu in Vietnamese.

The New Year tree is a piece of a bamboo five or six yards long is stripped bare excerpt for a little bunch of leaves. Near the top is suspended a round bamboo frame holding a few little fish and bells made of baked clay that tinkle softly in the wind. Beneath this frame is votive gifts and some thorny branches. At the top of the New Year tree, a small kerosene lamp is lit at night.

The New Year tree marks the way for the ancestor’s spirits who came back from the other world to enjoy New Year with the living. Evil spirits are scared away by the thorns and the tinkling of the bells. Other precautions are also taken: villagers use lime powder to sketch a drawn bow on their courtyards. The arrows of the bow are supposed to frighten away evil spirits.