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In the previous issue, we started a journey across Canada and learned about the origins, as well as the meaning, of entities that are considered symbols of Canada. We admired the meanings of the two colours on the Canadian flag. The origin of the Coat-of-Arms, the national anthem and the flag of Canada had provoked a sense of awe in us. And there were times in autumn, we bent down to pick up a friable maple leaf with the intention of mailing it to someone in Vietnam, or watched the assiduous beaver building its lodge with curiosity… In this issue, before retracing the memory lane to Vietnam, there is another interesting thing about Canada that we should not miss, and the question I would like to ask you is:
“Do you like sports?”
Either yes or no, it’s impossible not to be fascinated with hockey, which was declared the national winter sport of Canada. This sport is so popular that many Canadian cities claimed to have started it, if not invented it – most notably: Halifax, Windsor, Nova Scotia and Kingston (Ontario). Hockey’s popularity rapidly spread across the country in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, was such an avid hockey enthusiast, that in 1892, he donated a trophy to the sport; it is known today as the Stanley Cup.
How about Vietnam?
As a country with thousands of years of history, Vietnam has many symbols as well. In this issue, we’ll just mention a few emblematic ones.
Long ago, an imprint of “Chim Lac” – a legendary bird – was found on the face of the antique “Bronze Drum;” it was also a symbol of the ancient Vietnamese kingdom, Lac Viet.
Vietnamese dragons are symbolic creatures in the folklore and mythology. According to an ancient myth, the Vietnamese people are offspring of a union between a dragon and a fairy, hence the proverb: “Descendants of Dragon and Fairy.”
Traditionally, Vietnamese people believed that dragons can bring rain, and are able to change the weather, thus playing a crucial role in agriculture. The features of this legendary creature transformed with the change of dynasties. Their bodies always have 12 sections, symbolizing 12 months in the year. Dragons always hold a jewel in their mouths, signifying a symbol of humanity, nobility and knowledge. The dragons represent emperors, prosperity, and the ultimate power of the nation.
“Nothing is as beautiful as a lotus in the mud
Green leaves, white petals, and yellow filaments.
Yellow filaments, white petals, green leaves
Grown from the mud but is still impeccable.”
This lesson from our childhood sums up the lotus nicely. Nowadays, when speaking about Vietnam, people often think of the lotus. This kind of flower grows in the mud but still has a pure and pleasant fragrance, a metaphor that is likened to the Vietnamese people. Although faced with many difficulties, Vietnamese people manage to preserve a pure and righteous soul.
Lotus can be found in most parts of the country, and for a long time this flower has embodied both our cultural identity and national spirit. Lotus has also appeared in many traditional literatures, cultural, and architectural works in Vietnam.
India and Sri Lanka also have also chosen the lotus as their national flower, but theirs is the white lotus, while Vietnam’s lotus is pink.
Besides the lotus, people often associate Vietnam to the bamboo trees. Bamboo trees always grow vertically, similar to the characteristics of the Vietnamese people; having faced many difficulties and yet they still stand strong and never surrender.
“Want to bet?”
Soccer is the most popular sport in Vietnam. Though the Vietnamese team never makes it to any final, there are big celebrations whenever they score a goal against foreign competitors. Betting on soccer is a major pastime, therefore violence often occurs following an exciting match.
The Vietnamese national team performs satisfactorily against other nations from Southeast Asia; it generally beats teams from Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia but often loses to Thailand. However, it doesn’t do so well in international competitions outside the Asian region.
When Vietnam was split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, two national teams were formed. The South Vietnamese national team took part in the first two AFC Asian Cup finals, finishing fourth place both times.
With the immensity of the land and the magnanimity of the heart, Canada is home to those who value freedom. We are proud to wear the pin with a Canadian flag on the collar of our shirt. We cheer each time Canadian players shoot and score in the Stanley Cup final. We admire the assiduous beaver who works tirelessly on the bank of a dam. We drift into the immensity of the seas while pondering the nation’s slogan: from sea (Atlantic) to sea (Pacific), and sink into the depths of emotion when listening to the echoing notes of the national anthem “O Canada,” while in our dream, the Dragon of Vietnam holds its head high in the Southeast Asian sky, standing side by side with the civilized world community, and we live with the vivid virtue of our ancestors: “Grown from the mud but is still impeccable.”