Vietnamese peacekeepers in South Sudan plant New Year tree

Vietnamese staff members of level-2 field hospital No. 3 in South Sudan have recently erected a “Neu” tree (New Year's tree) to kick off the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) celebration.

Vietnamese soldiers plant traditional Neu tree in African land
Vietnamese soldiers plant traditional Neu tree in African land

Vietnamese people in the old days put up tall bamboo poles with red garment strips hanging on them during Tet, believing that the poles prevented ghosts and monsters from entering the community during the holiday. The tradition of raising the “Neu” pole remains alive today in many villages and homes around the country.

“Neu” tree is a sacred symbol that wards off evil spirits and misfortunes of the old year and prays for a lucky and auspicious new year.

The Vietnamese peacekeepers in South Sudan used a discarded antenna pole to make the 10-metre “Neu” tree and decorated it with strings of colorful flags and ornaments recycled from nylon. A national flag was placed atop the “Neu” tree with a wind chime made of bamboo hung beneath.

The traditional tree can be seen from far away, capturing the interest of local people, UN staff at the mission, patients, and visitors.