For a long time, the Vietnamese custom of asking for and giving good words has become an indispensable traditional custom on the first days of the Lunar New Year. The agile strokes of the brush contain therein good aspirations for a new year full of prosperity, luck and peace.
The verses and best wishes carefully inscribed on red paper are spiritual gifts to welcome in the new year, representing good aspirations for the whole year.
On each occasion of the Lunar New Year, thousands of people from all over the country flock to the Temple of Literature in Hanoi seeking a blessing from Confucian scholars. This year, more than 100 calligraphers from famous calligraphic clubs gathered at the 2017 Spring Calligraphy Festival held at the campus of Van (Literature) Lake at the national relic site.
The annual cultural event aims to honour Vietnamese tradition and respect for knowledge, along with preserving and promoting the value of Vietnamese calligraphy.
Besides the familiar image of old scholars in traditional clothes, this year’s event also saw the participation of many young calligraphers.
According to tradition, people often ask for good words to hang in their home in the hope of a new year with good health, peace, happiness and luck.
Depending on the purpose and age of the recipients, the calligraphers will advise them with appropriate words.
Typically, students and youngsters often ask for the characters symbolising 智 (wisdom), 明 (bright) or 達 (achieve), to remind themselves of the importance of attaining knowledge and striving for good results in examinations. The middle aged tend to select 安 (peace), 福 (blessing), 德 (virtue) or 心 (heart), looking forward to a new year of peace and harmony in the family.
In addition to Han and Nom templates, verses and words in Vietnamese are also preferred by many people as they are easy to read and understand.
Good wishes for a happy new year are incorporated in the flexible characters. Because of this, every word printed by the hands of calligraphers is not just a form of but also reveals the heart, personality, spirit and creativity of each scholar.
In the past, calligraphers were often wise and knowledgeable scholars with famous virtues. The recipients hope that through their work that they will also enjoy good luck, mercy and talent from the word givers.
When printing the characters, calligraphers explain the meaning of each letter for receivers so that they can fully understand the profound meaning of each word, thereby understanding more about the cultural custom of the nation.
A foreign tourist enjoys watching the calligraphic works completed.