Vietnamese soldiers plant traditional Neu tree in faraway African land
Tet is the celebration of the beginning of spring as well as a new year. It is the time for family reunions, exchanging gifts, best wishes, planting a New Year tree or “Cay Neu”, an extremely tall bamboo tree in front of their homes. According to folk traditions, the tree is a sacred symbol that helps to ward off evil spirits and misfortunes of the old year, wishing for a lucky and auspicious new year.
Looking at the Neu tree, Vietnamese green beret soldiers in Africa have felt the atmosphere of the approaching traditional Tet holiday (the Lunar New Year Festival), the most important Vietnamese holiday.
With beautiful decorations and outstanding height, the tree is one of the most prominent images in the Lunar New Year days of Vietnamese people. Over time, depending on the region, the tree mentioned is different from place to place.
In the remote African land, Vietnamese people don't have as many choices as in their homeland, that's why the tree of the unit is specially implemented by officials and employees by combining Vietnamese tradition with locally available materials.
The tree manifesting the Vietnamese soul has been erected with a height of about 10m, the trunk is made from an old antenna tree, surrounded by colorful flags and decorative strings recycled from nylon. At night, the led lights are lit, flashing, brilliant in a corner of the yard.
VIetnamese soldiers decorate their unit for the traditional Lunar New YearThe top of the tree is decorated with a wind chime as a bamboo tube. When the wind blows, they touch each other and make sounds that are very pleasant and familiar.
In particular, on the top of the tree is the Vietnamese national flag proudly flying in the sun and wind in Africa, representing the will and determination to complete the mission of the soldiers of Uncle Ho's army.
The traditional tree can be seen from far away from the unit, attracting the attention and interest of local people, UN staff at the mission as well as patients and delegations. It is one of the pride for the field hospital's officers and employees to introduce Vietnam's traditional Tet holiday, culture, custom to international friends.
The traditional bamboo tree and the intimate sound of the wind chimes help to alleviate Vietnamese soldiers’ feeling of nostalgia while away from home to be the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan. This may be the most special and memorable Tet in the hearts of every Vietnamese green beret soldier in South Sudan.