Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Tết or Lunar New Year holiday is the most important celebration in Việt Nam’s calender.
According to tradition, Tết is a time for family members to come together and enjoy traditional foods such as bánh chưng (glutinous rice cake), giò (pork sausage) and dưa hành (pickled onion).
But some students are passing up on the opportunity to spend time at home, opting to find seasonal employment instead.
Nguyễn Thị Thảo is studying at the University of Labour and Social Affairs.
For the past three years, this fourth-year student hasn’t returned home for Tết.
With a sick father, Thảo thought it would be better to spend the holiday season working, helping her mother raise much-needed income for the family.
“The payment for working during Tết will double in comparison with normal days so I have to take advantage to earn more money,” Thảo told Lao động cuối tuần (Labour Weekend) newspaper.
“I know my parents and my brother feel sad when I don’t come home but I have no choice,” she said, adding that besides having to pay transportation fees, she couldn’t earn any money if she returned home for the holiday, about 15 days of her student calendar.
“Over the past three years, I always feel homesickness during the last minutes of Lunar New Year’s Eve,” she recalled.
“I phoned my parents and wished them good health and happiness. However, I couldn’t hold back tears when listening to them.”
Thảo’s feelings were shared by Hoàng Hà, a third-year student, from Hà Nội University of Culture.
Only those who celebrate Tết away from home could treasure the warm atmosphere of a family reunion, she said.
Last year Hà decided to work for a supermarket on Thái Hà Street in Hà Nội’s Đống Đa District to help with university fees.
She said she missed her family and her hometown on New Year’s Eve, feeling so bad, she cried for a whole day.
Taking part-time jobs is a popular choice for students wanting to support their family.
In the past, tutoring, sales or catering are among the favourite choices for Tết jobs, but now domestic help is the positions most in demand when Tết is approaching.
Thanh Xuân, an administrator of a social media page for domestic helpers in Hà Nội said up to 35 job adverts were posted in the days leading up to the Tết compared to 15-20 jobs per day for the rest of the year.
“All the jobs are distributed among students within 30 minutes,” she said.
Xuân also said the demand for domestic helpers during the holiday season this year increased by 30 per cent compared to last.
There were two options for students. The first was working continuously from the 26th day of the last lunar month to the sixth day of the Lunar New Year with payment of VNĐ500,000 (US$21.5) per day. The second option was part time earning around VNĐ120,000-150,000 ($5-6.4) per hour.
But it is no easy ride.
Thảo says she is extremely busy because in addition to working as a part-time domestic helper for two families in Trung Tự Living Quarter in Đống Đa Street, she cleans for other families.
Spring cleaning is a traditional practice several weeks before Tết, and since many families do have jobs themselves, they often hire cleaning services.
The rising demand means more opportunities for students like Thảo and Hà, but they also face a tough question.
What’s more important? Earning money or spending precious time with their families?
It seems many young people are opting for the former, but at what sacrifice? — VNS