Tet Holiday or Vietnamese Lunar New Year is the most important and popular festival in Vietnam. It is calculated by the lunar calendar, therefore, it usually occurs at the end of January. This is a great occasion for pilgrims and family reunions and for all foreign tourists to enjoy the festive atmosphere thanks to the longest public holiday. Tet holiday 2019 drops on February 5th (New Year Eve is the previous day)
What is Tet Holiday
Tet is the occasion for Vietnamese to express their respect and commemoration for their ancestors, welcome the Lunar New Year with their beloved family members, and summarize what they did in the old year. According to Vietnamese’s belief, what they do on the first day of the year will have an effect on its rest. Therefore, they always pay attention to every word they say and everything they do. A traditional Tet often lasts for a month, nevertheless, the busy life shortens it to one week.
The Features of Tet Festival
The Cuisine of Tet Holiday
Chung cake is a traditional cake in Vietnam that only appears at Tet. Tasty and savory Chung Cake wrapped in green leaves is a combination of familiar ingredients such as sticky rice, green beans, and pork. It is boiled overnight and family members take turns to take care of the Chung cooking pot on the fire overnight, telling each other about the Tet of the past year. According to a legend passed on for thousands of generations, Chung Cake represents the Earth as a result of its combination of Vietnamese agriculture’s ingredients. Whenever looking at Chung Cake, we realize that Tet is coming.
Sticky rice contributes a very important part to Tet holiday. The dish can be seen in many forms such as Xoi Lac (sticky rice with peanuts), Xoi Do Xanh (sticky rice with mung bean) or Xoi Gac (sticky rice with Gac fruit). Among the types, Xoi Gac has often been preferred thanks to its special red color representing the luck and new achievement for the New Year.
As a result of Vietnamese’s belief that eating sweet things will bring them luck, Jam – a common snack to welcome guest at Tet is made by every family. It is made from dried fruits such as carrots, apples, coconuts, etc mixed with sugar.
The Symbol of Tet Holiday
Vietnam Zodiac Signs
Vietnamese zodiac signs include 12 animals (rat, buffalo, tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog, and pig). Every Lunar New Year will have a symbolic animal. Each animal symbolizes a distinctive personality of the human and brings the lucky in its year. Tet holiday 2019 is the year of the pig, therefore, you can see them everywhere during Tet holiday through news and decorations.
Trees & Flowers
Peach blossom, apricot blossom, and kumquat trees play an important part at Tet. In front of every house in Northern Vietnam is a pot of peach blossom since it can avoid the devil and symbolize innovation & strong reproduction. In Southern Vietnam, apricot blossom trees whose yellow color will bring the luck for the owners appear at Tet. In addition, kumquat trees at Tet bearing rich fruits symbolize health, peace, longevity, and luck in love, showing the convergence of many generations in the family.
Tray of Five Fruits
Like its name, the five-fruit tray is a tray of 5 different fruits such as bananas, grapefruits, oranges, and other tropical fruits displayed in a careful and artistic way. Even though every region chooses different fruits, the tray of five fruits still indicates the wish for New Year of the family through their names, colors, and arrangement.
How is Tet Holiday Celebrated
Before New Year’s Eve
This memorable period starts one or two weeks before the actual celebration. The Tet atmosphere rolls around the streets and markets full of people. In the days leading to Tet, the Vietnamese are in the bustle of shopping because of the shops’ close, decorating the house gloriously, cooking traditional food and waiting for family members to come back home. As a belief of “new year, new things”, parents always buy new clothes for their children so that they will put them on at Tet. They also try to pay off their debts before Tet to avoid one of Vietnam culture taboos because they are afraid that they will be in debt in the whole next year.
On the 23rd of the last month in the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people will celebrate offerings to see the three kitchen guardians for each house off returning to heaven. The Vietnamese will release carps into the river so that the guardians can use as transportation to head to the heaven after carps turn into the dragons. The three guards will give his annual report which happens in the past year of family members to the Jade Emperor and comes back on the last day of the year to welcome the New Year with family members.
During Tet Holiday
Tet Holidays lasts for three days, and people often stay at home to welcome guests, visit relative houses and go to the pagodas to pray. While the elderly will be received the wishes for health, the adults will be obtained the ones for luck & success, the children will be received the lucky money.
According to Vietnamese’s belief of “xông đất”, the first guest in the first day of the New Year will determine their luck for the entire year, therefore, they always invite a person of good temper and success into their house first. Moreover, if everything on the first day is good, the entire following year will be full of blessings. Especially, sweeping during Tet is a traditional taboo since it may sweep the luck away.
Festivals after Tet Holiday
After Tet, it is a high time for people to participate in festivals all around the country such as buffalo fighting festival, boat racing, wrestling, etc. These festivals will be organized for a month after Tet Holiday to enjoy life after a working hard year.
Explore Vietnam during Tet holiday will offer you unforgettable moments as well as many interesting experiences of Vietnamese cultures, customs, and tradition.