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176 Pages

Documents Part II

The custom of celebrating Tet goes back to remote antiquity. Like many other Vietnamese traditions it was imported from China, probably by the Chinese tribe of the Yueh, which came 4,000 years ago from the banks of the Yang-Tse-Kiang to settle the land of the Giao-Chi (now North Viet Nam). The essence of this custom has been maintained throughout the ages. But, as with rites in other societies, its original significance gradually was lost or deformed so that later generations often came to repeat words and gestures that were so transformed they had lost all meaning. Certain old books on magic sometimes give an idea of what was in the mind of our ancestors who devised and imposed such or such a rite. But, more often, one can only conjecture.