by Tao Jun, Bui Long
HANOI, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- An onrush of gold miners seemingly from yesteryear seeking their fortune seemed to descend on Vietnam on Sunday, the God of Wealth day, but the miners were in fact just ordinary people.
Despite the cold and rain early on Sunday morning, Vietnamese people started queuing in front of major gold shops on Tran Nhan Tong Street, dubbed the biggest gold street in the capital city of Hanoi, and Cau Giay street, the second-biggest gold street in the city, at 4:00 a.m. local time. Most of the shops did not open until 6:30 a.m. local time.
"I came here at 5:00 a.m. to buy gold at any cost. Purchasing gold today, the God of Wealth day, will bring us good luck for the whole year," Nguyen Hong Thai, owner of a Thai beauty salon in Hanoi, told Xinhua on Sunday morning.
The middle-aged woman struggled to navigate the crowd inside and outside the Bao Tin Minh Chau gold shop on Tran Nhan Tong Street after successfully buying a gold figurine of dog and a gold coin with the image of a dog under a tree. The lunar year 2018 is the Year of the Dog.
"The Dog is the 11th animal of the 12 zodiac animals and has great positive energy. Dogs are very loyal. Therefore, I firmly believe that any gold or jewelries with the image of dogs will bring me luck and prosperity throughout the Year of the Dog," the well-known beauty salon owner said with a contented smile.
On Sunday morning, long queues were seen in front of many gold shops in different streets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The shops' reinforced security guards and new marketing staff were wearing a yellow or red costume and a bonnet of the same color, which stood out in the crowds.
"Today, most of gold shops have to increase the number of professional security guards to ensure order and instruct customers to park their vehicles, and hire young women and men to wear costumes which look like those worn by officials in feudal times to represent the God of Wealth to impress customers and passersby," a staff of Manh Hai gold shop in Hanoi's Nguyen Trai Street, told Xinhua on Sunday.
Inside the shop, a retired public servant named Vu Van Dat spent two months of his monthly pension on buying a thin gold ring.
"I'm not a trader, and I'm not superstitious. I bought this gold ring as a way of keeping my assets away from inflation, and I'll give it to my close relatives as a gift on a special occasion such as a wedding or the building of a new house," the old man said.
According to many gold shops' managers, this year, most of their customers bought gold on the God of Wealth day with the hope of having luck, and few purchased the precious metal for trading.
"Most of our products sold today are items weighing one or two tenths of a tael (a tael, the most common measurement of the weight of gold in Vietnam, equals 37.5 grams). Few have bought taels of gold. Up to now, nobody has bought 10 taels," a representative from Bao Tin Minh Chau's business department told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.
According to businesspeople, due to the higher demand for gold bars and jewels on the God of Wealth day, their prices were higher than other days, so it was risky for people to buy gold and then resell it. At Doji shops, buying and selling prices of gold were 36.8-37.6 million Vietnamese dong (1,620-1,660 U.S. dollars) per tael on Sunday morning, around 200,000 Vietnamese dong (8.8 U.S. dollars) higher than Saturday.
"On the God of Wealth day, you should not buy gold and sell it immediately. If you are a trader or an accumulator, you should buy gold on other occasions. Today, it is important to buy gold to get luck," advised Pham Hai Au, vice chairman of the board of directors of Phu Quy Group.
According to many gold shops and companies, their transactions on Sunday surged 20-50 percent compared to ordinary days, and buyers outnumbered sellers.
"This year, the number of our gold products increased by 50 percent to 300,000. On late Sunday afternoon, our companies still provided the market with more products," Tran Nhu My, gold business manager of Doji Group, told Xinhua.
Profits from gold sales on the God of Wealth day were considerable, because there was a big gap between buying and selling prices, Tran Quoc Quynh from the Vietnam Gold Traders Association said, noting that at some gold shops, the gap stood at 700,000-800,000 Vietnamese dong (31-35 U.S. dollars) per tael.
Sunday, Feb. 25, is the 10th of the first month of 2018, the Year of the Dog according to the lunar calendar. The 10th day of every lunar new year is regarded as the Day of God of Wealth in Vietnam.
According to Tran Huu Son, vice chairman of the Vietnam Folklore Association, the God of Wealth day is an age-old Vietnamese god-worshipping belief which is affected by Chinese culture.
"The custom of buying gold on the Day of God of Wealth has a long history in Vietnam and first became popular in the Chinese-Vietnamese community in Ho Chi Minh City, and then in Hanoi," Wei Yonglu, director of the Vietnam-China Flavoring Company, told Xinhua recently.
According to a folk tale, the God of Wealth who lives in heaven, one day falls to earth after getting drunk. He goes to people's houses to ask for food and drink and later the houses' owners become rich. On the 10th day of the lunar new year, he flies back to heaven. To memorize the God of Wealth, people choose this day to worship him and pray for luck and prosperity.
Such a practice in Vietnam is believed to have originated from China. Caishen is the Chinese god of prosperity worshipped in folk religion.