There are many traditions practiced by the Vietnamese at Tet, the lunar new year, but none catches the eye of the American tourists more than the act of burning thousands of U.S. $100 bills with the familiar face of Ben Franklin turning to ash.
Instead of sparklers–firecrackers are outlawed–the younger set and many adults torch the U.S. money in hopes of having a prosperous new year. The superstition is the smoke and ashes will ascend to heaven and with luck come back as REAL money. The Vietnamese make photocopies of the Big Bens, cut them into perfect bill size and pass them out to their children to burn on the sidewalks.
No one could explain why the U.S. dollar was the currency of choice, but the way the Feds print money and government at all levels–along with bankers and auto manufacturers–burn through it, perhaps the Vietnamese are just taking a lesson from capitalists. They use photocopies which perhaps have the same value as the real thing once you think about it.
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