A traditional Tet festival in Vietnam often lasts for a month. However, the busy life makes it shorter, even disappear. If you choose a new type of travel like cruising to enjoy multi-culture Lunar New Year, your travel plan should be picked the right countries where people still hold a long festival such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which is often a week. Recently, some people express their idea to cancel the Vietnamese New Year and only celebrate the Western New Year. Although it is constructive, the Tet holiday will have still been remaining as a vital festival in Vietnam because of its priceless traditions, customs, and meaning.
The Features on Tet Holiday – Vietnamese New Year
Vietnamese Lunar New Year is NOT Chinese Lunar New Year
It is absolutely mistaken to say that the Vietnamese are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. Although both countries use the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people have different lunar new year customs, celebrations, and traditions from China.
The History of Lunar New Year in Vietnam
According to the historical documents, in the thirteenth century, Vietnamese people often celebrated the Tet holiday by painting tattoos on themselves, drinking traditional glutinous-rice liquor, using betel nuts to welcome guests, and eating Chung cakes, pickled onions. In the Ly dynasty (1009-1226), many important rituals were made on the Tet festival such as setting up a dome to pray for the rains or building communal houses to crave for a year of abundant harvests. In the period of King Le Thanh Tong (1442-1497), Tet was the most important festival and hundreds of mandarins had to gather at the royal court to celebrate this lunar new year festival with royal families.
The Tet Holiday’s Foods
In the Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tet also means to eat, which affirmed the important role of Vietnam Lunar New Year’s Food. One Vietnamese traditional proverb denotes that you can be hungry all year except three days of the Tet festival because dozens of delicious dishes and desserts will be prepared on Lunar New Year in Vietnam to feast on the ancestors as well as every family member.
Chung cake is the traditional cake in Vietnam that only appears on the Tet holiday. Tasty and savory Chung cake is made from very familiar ingredients to all Vietnamese such as sticky rice, green beans, and pork, which is wrapped in green leaves and boiled overnight. According to a legend that has been passed on for thousands of generations, Chung cake is the symbol of Earth because it combines all the unique ingredients of Vietnamese agriculture. Although Chung cake can be tasted all seasons nowadays, enjoying these cakes during the Tet holiday still brings special feelings for Vietnamese people.
Jam – Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Dessert
Jam is the common snack to welcome guests on the Tet holiday. It is mainly made from dried fruits like carrots, coconuts, apples, or some kinds of seeds such as roasted watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds mixed with sugar. The Vietnamese believe eating sweet things on the Tet holiday will bring them luck for the Lunar New Year.
On the Tet holiday, people often eat fat and oiled foods which easily cloys their appetite. This is high time for something with low calories and fresh like pickled onions. They help the digestive system digest high protein food more easily. In the minds of Vietnamese people, Tet is only complete when there are fat meat, pickled onions, and red distiches.
Besides, there is a myriad of signature dishes that inspire the taste in different regions on Vietnamese Lunar New Year such as spring rolls, boiled chickens, Vietnamese sausages, sticky rice, and so on.
Mascots of Tet holiday
Vietnamese Zodiac Signs
Each Lunar New Year will have a symbolic animal. 12 Vietnamese zodiac signs are different from Chinese ones (The fourth zodiac sign in Vietnam is Cat while it is Rabbit in China). Every animal will bring unique luck in its year so you can see them everywhere in Vietnam through Tet holiday decorations or advertisement signs. Tet holiday 2021 is the year of the Buffalo.
Trees & Flowers on Tet Holiday
Peach blossom in Northern Vietnam and apricot blossom trees in Southern Vietnam are also symbols that exclusively appear on the Tet holiday. The light red of peach blossom will bring luck while the yellow of apricot blossom will bring fortune to the owners. It is said that Tet Vietnam will lose itself if missing two of them.
It is originally a 5 meters tall bamboo shoot. The chop of the tree hangs different things based on each region such as votive papers, amulet exorcism, or alcohol bottles made of straw. It is believed that the appearance of the Neu tree on the Tet holiday in Vietnam is the signal for the devils to realize that this place is home to living people, not to harass.
Tray of Five Fruits
This is a tray of five different fruits such as bananas, grapefruits, oranges, and other tropical fruits which are only prepared on the Vietnamese New Year. Although each region chooses different fruits, a tray of five fruits is still used to express the wishes for the Lunar New Year of the host family by their names, colors, and arrangements.
In addition, kumquat trees, Dong Ho paintings, red distiches are also believed by the Vietnamese to bring luck and wealth for them all around the year.
How is Tet Holiday Celebrated?
Before Tet Holiday – How Vietnam Lunar New Year is Prepared?
Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao (Gods & Goddess of Kitchen)
On the 23rd of the last month in the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people prepare the traditional offerings and especially the carps to regale the gods and goddesses living at their house all over the year. Then they will release the carps into the river so they will be used by the Gods as the transportations to come to heaven, according to the legend. At heaven, they will report everything happening all around the year of their family to the King of heaven. They will come back on the last day of the year to celebrate the Tet holiday with the host. The carps then become the dragons. Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao of Tet holiday 2021 is on February 4th.
Cleaning & Decorating the House
Tet holiday is also called by a jolly name “house-cleaning festival”. A week before the Tet festival, all members of the family clean the house, the garden, the altars, do Tet holiday decorations. Broken things will be repaired, old things will be replaced. Clothes and decorations such as lanterns, distiches, led lights will be bought. All those preparations have the same purpose – to be the best to welcome the Lunar New Year festival and to receive luck as well as fortune.
The Last Day of the Year & Lunar New Year Eve
On the last day of the year, every member of different generations gathers around a grand banquet to enjoy the last meal of the year. The talk at that time is about things already happening in the year. The ambiance of the reunion is always the most wonderful and happiest at all.
On Lunar New Year Eve, the young often go out to watch the Tet holiday firework performance while the elderly and adults stay at home making offerings of pig head, boiled chicken, rice, and salt for outdoor worshipping to the Gods and indoor one to the ancestors. They will pray for a new year of luck, health, and fortune to every family member.
After that, the young return home and become the first one to come to the house in the lunar new year. It is believed that the wishes of that person for the host will come true. Then everyone gathers again to drink some alcohol or juice. Then the wishes, as well as plans of every person for the new year, will be shared with others.
During Tet Holiday – Vietnamese Lunar New Year Traditions & Customs
Lunar New Year in Vietnam traditionally lasts for three days. People often stay at home to welcome guests to their houses or go to their relatives and neighborhood houses. The elderly will be received the Tet holiday’s gifts and wishes for health, the adults will be received the ones for fortune and success while the young and children will be received lucky money. Laughs and talks appear everywhere on the Tet holiday these days. Besides, Vietnamese people often go to pagodas. By donating money and asking for letters, they will receive several lucks and fortune.
Vietnamese New Year Wishes & Greetings
The Tet festival is the main holiday in Vietnam. Therefore, Vietnamese people will give each other the best wishes for a lucky and successful Lunar New Year. Below are some of Tet holiday greetings and wishes with the meanings in English.
- Chuc Mung Nam Noi: Happy Vietnam Lunar New Year
- An Khang Thinh Vuong: Wish you are always safe and sound, wealthy, and prosperous.
- Van Su Nhu Y: All your wishes will come true.
- Tan Tai Tan Loc: Wish you a new year of fortune.
Festivals & Activities after Tet Holiday
Tet Vietnam ends when votive papers are burned and offerings are taken down from the altars to share with every family member. It is the time for people to join in festivals all around the country after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year such as buffalo fighting festival or boat racing, wrestling, lion or dragon dances. Festivals will be organized for a month after the Tet holiday so you are able to attend and explore them as many as possible.
To talk about Tet Holiday, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is the priceless value of Vietnam and an indispensable part of the life of all Vietnamese people. Plan Vietnam tours to enjoy the Tet holiday and experience unforgettable experiences of Vietnamese cultures, customs, and traditions.