Tet holiday in Vietnam or Vietnam Lunar New Year is considered the most important and significant festival. Calculated by the Lunar calendar, the Tet festival occurs later than the Solar New Year which is often at the end of January. This longest public holiday in Vietnam is a wonderful occasion for travelers to spend their Vietnam luxury tours experiencing the festive atmosphere as well as enjoying one of the most long-standing holidays in the world. Tet holiday 2021 is on February 12th, 2021.
The Meaning of Tet Holiday
Vietnamese Lunar New Year is celebrated to welcome the Lunar New Year, sum up what people did in the last year and tell about their changes, plans, and progress. Besides, the Vietnamese believe things they do on the first day of the New Year will affect the remainder. As a result, great attention will be paid to everything they do and every word they say. Moreover, the Tet holiday may be the only time in the year all family members have a chance to gather after a hard-working year.
The Characteristics of the Vietnamese New Year
Vietnam Lunar New Year is NOT Chinese Lunar New Year
It is completely wrong to say that Vietnamese people are celebrating the New Year of the Chinese. Despite the fact that Vietnam and China use the same calendar, the Tet holiday in Vietnam has separate traditions and customs. Based on the ancient historical documents, in the 13th century, the Vietnamese used to celebrate the Tet holiday by drinking traditional glutinous-rice wine, painting on themselves, using betel nuts to welcome guests, eating pickled onions and Chung cake.
During Ly dynasty (1009 – 1226), a lot of important rituals occurred such as constructing communal houses to crave abundant harvests or setting up a dome to pray for the rains. In the reign of King Le Thanh Tong (1442 – 1497), hundreds of mandarins had to gather at the royal court to celebrate Tet holiday with royal families.
Cuisine in Tet Holiday
Eating is the best way to celebrate the Vietnamese lunar new year. One traditional proverb in Vietnam denotes that you can be hungry all over the year except three days of Tet. Dozens of delicious dishes will be prepared for the Vietnamese new year to worship the ancestors and feast all family members.
This traditional cake used to appear only on the Tet holiday. Chung cake is made from familiar ingredients to Vietnamese people including pork, green beans, and sticky rice; wrapped in many layers of green leaves and boiled in about 12 hours. According to the legend, Chung cake reflects the image of the earth as it is the rich mix of Vietnamese agriculture and the characteristics of Vietnamese people.
During Lunar New Year in Vietnam, there is a lot of fat and oiled foods that can cloy the appetite. Pickled onions are created to help the digestive system digest foods more easily. Some Vietnamese people consider that the Tet holiday must have three main things: fat meat, pickled onions, and red distiches.
Furthermore, there is a lot of iconic foods that inspire the taste in different regions on the Tet holiday such as spring rolls, jams, boiled chickens, Vietnamese sausages, steamed sticky rice, and so on.
Tet Holiday’s Mascots
Vietnamese Zodiac Signs
Each year has its own symbolic animal. 12 zodiac signs in Vietnam are different from 12 ones in China (The 4th zodiac animal in Vietnam is Cat while the 4th in China is Rabbit). Every zodiac sign will bring its own luck during the year so it can be seen everywhere in Vietnam through outside decorations and advertisement banners.
Trees & Flowers on Tet Holiday
Apricot blossoms in South Vietnam and peach blossoms in North Vietnam are also the symbols of the Vietnam Lunar New Year. The pink peach blossoms will bring luck while the yellow apricot blossom will deliver fortune to owners.
Tray of Five Fruits
It is a tray of 5 different fruits such as grapefruits, bananas, oranges, and some tropical fruits. Although other regions choose other fruits, the fruit tray is still used to express the host’s wish through their colors, names, and arrangements.
How is the Vietnamese New Year Celebrated?
Before Tet Holiday – The Preparation
Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao (Gods and Goddess of Kitchen)
On December 23rd in the lunar calendar, the Vietnamese prepare a traditional offering with carps to three gods in their kitchen. The carps then will be released into a nearby lake or river and they will be used by the Gods as their transportations to reach heaven. At the heaven, the Gods will report everything of their family in the year to the Jade Emperor. They will return to their kitchen on the last day of the year to celebrate the Tet holiday with the host. The carps will become dragons after this journey.
Cleaning the House
Vietnamese New Year is sometimes called by a fun name “house-cleaning festival”. About one week before New Year’s Eve, all family members clean and the house, garden, and altars as well as redecorate them. Broken things are repaired and colorful led lights are bought. These preparations have the same purpose to welcome the New Year and receive fortune as well as luck.
Last Day of the Year & New Year Eve
A grand banquet will be prepared for all family members on the last day of the year. The warm ambiance of the reunion is always the happiest and most wonderful ever. On New Year Eve, young people often go out to watch the fascinating firework while adults and the elderly stay at home and prepare offerings of pig’s head, a bowl of rice, a plate of salt, and boiled chicken for indoor worshipping to the ancestors and outdoor one to the Gods. Then they will pray for all family members a new year of health, luck, and fortune.
Later, young people return home after the firework and become the first people visiting the house in the New Year. People believe that their wishes for the host will come true. Next, all members gather again to drink some wine or juice. Their goals and plans for the New Year will be shared with others.
During Tet Holiday
Vietnamese New Year traditionally lasts for 3 days. People usually stay at home to welcome honor guests or visit neighboring and relative houses. Old people will receive wishes for age and health, adults will receive the ones for success and fortune while the children will receive lucky money wrapped in red envelopes. Happy talks and laughs can be heard everywhere during Tet Holiday. In addition, the Vietnamese like to visit pagodas on the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. They will donate money and ask for letters to receive fortune and lucks.
After Vietnamese New Year
Tet Holiday ends when votive papers are burned and offerings are shared for family members. It is time to participate in fascinating festivals all around the country such as buffalo fighting, wrestling, and lion and dragon dances. Festivals will be taken place for a month after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year so travelers can have a chance to attend and experience them as much as possible.
The Dates of Tet Holiday & Corresponding Zodiac Signs
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