Bonsai trees shaped like rats are popular in Vietnam ahead of Lunar New Year

It’s 2020 — and with the Lunar New Year just weeks away, farmers in Vietnam have come up with a unique way to herald the Year of the Rat.

These bonsai trees are shaped to look like rats, and were made to order in small quantities. They take about a year to grow, and a meticulous hand is required to shape them so that all the fruits are exposed, CNN affiliate VTV reported.

Kumquats — a citrus fruit with a sour tang — are growing on the ornamental trees. And the more ripe fruit a tree has, the higher its price, with the bonsais costing up to $215.

The kumquat tree has deep orange-colored fruits, and is a popular ornamental plant in Vietnam and parts of Asia during Lunar New Year because its many fruits symbolize fertility, abundance and luck. It’s believed that the more fruit on the tree, the luckier your family will be in the new year.

The first day of the Lunar New Year, known as Tet in Vietnam, falls on January 25 and marks the start of the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac. Many people who celebrate the festival prepare by spring cleaning and decorating their homes.

Expensive ornamental flowers and fruit trees for the Lunar New Year are a trend in Vietnam this year, leading to increased production of unusual flowers and plants, according to state-run newspaper Viet Nam News.

Bonsai tree plantations in Ben Tre province, southern Vietnam, produce about 300,000 different products annually, a third of which are animal-shaped trees, VTV reported.

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