Here's why Vietnam is celebrating the Year of the Cat instead of the Year of the Rabbit
While the rest of East Asia welcomes the Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, Vietnamese people will be celebrating the Year of the Cat.
No one knows when or why the Vietnamese started favoring the cat over the rabbit.
The Year of the Ox is celebrated in Vietnam with the addition of the omnipresent water buffalo, one of the few notable deviations from the otherwise almost similar festivities of the 12-year Chinese Zodiac cycle.
Ngo Huong Giang, a culture expert based in Hanoi, speculates that the similarity in pronunciation between the Mandarin phrase for the rabbit in the Chinese astrological ordering system and the Vietnamese word for a cat may have had a role in the decision to adopt the cat as a cultural symbol. Similarly uncommon in Vietnam is the practice of raising rabbits.
A certain fact is that Vietnamese people are not open to altering their customs.
Ngo Quy Dung, a native of Hanoi, proudly said that he was born 60 years ago in the Year of the Cat, and he criticized the rabbit for not having as much strength as a cat. Nguyen Kim Chi, a 64-year-old Hanoian, concurs.
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She was snapping pictures next to a giant cat monument in Central Park in the nation's capital when she said, "The cat seems more magnificent since it also resembles a tiny tiger."
In preparation for the Lunar New Year, cat-themed sculptures and a plethora of cat-themed charms and gadgets have appeared in public locations around the nation.
Cats are used as a marketing tool by certain eateries. According to researcher Giang, most Vietnamese see the cat as a trusted family member who not only keeps rodents at bay but also drives away evil spirits and ushers in prosperity. While this, cat meat may still be found on certain rural menus despite being illegal in urban areas.
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