Tet holiday or Vietnamese Lunar New Year, even known as Tet Nguyen Dan, is truly an important event in Vietnamese tradition & culture. Because of being calculated by the lunar calendar, the Tet holiday takes place at the end of January that is obviously later than the globally New Year’s Day. The traditional event itself is the longest public holiday in Vietnam and also the most fantastic time for all travelers from all around the world to spend their time in Vietnam (if you are planning to enjoy the cheerful multi country Asia tours for New Year, do not ignore Vietnam). On February 12th, 2021, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year will occur.
What is the Tet Holiday?
In Vietnam, Tet holiday is celebrated to greet the New Year (Lunar New Year) and it is also the time for people to recall what they’ve done last year. The event is considered an important mark for changes, plans, and a new beginning. Additionally, Vietnamese people believe that on the first day of the Tet holiday, what they do will affect their rest. Thus, they pay their great attention to every single word they say, every single thing they do. One more thing is that the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, perhaps, is the only occasion for family members having a good moment together after a year of working and studying hard.
The Features of Vietnamese Tet Holiday
Vietnamese Lunar New Year Not Chinese Lunar New Year
Many people reckon that the Vietnamese have been celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year and yes, it must be a misunderstanding. Both of the two countries use the lunar calendar though, the customs and traditions of Vietnam are totally different from China. According to the Vietnamese historical document, in the 13th century, the Vietnamese tended to organize Tet holiday by painting on themselves as well as drinking traditional rice wine and using betel nuts to greet guests, tasting Banh Chung and pickled onions. In the period of the Ly dynasty (1009 – 1226), a huge number of important rituals were given birth such as setting up a dome to pray for rains, structuring communal holidays to crave for a lucky year of abundant harvests. During the period of King Le Thanh Tong (1442 – 1497), Tet holiday in Vietnam featured as the most essential festival and hundreds of mandarins had to gather at the court to celebrate such a meaningful event with the royal family.
Tet Holiday Cuisine
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year also means eat that affirmed the essential role of the cuisine in Tet Nguyen Dan. According to a Vietnamese traditional proverb, you can be hungry throughout a year; however, in the 3 days of the Tet holiday, never more. It is because dozens of scrumptious dishes will be prepared to feast the ancestors along with family members. So, let check out what dishes are served.
Banh Chung – Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake
Banh Chung is a traditional cake in Vietnam which only appears on the Tet holiday. The cake is made from immensely familiar ingredients such as sticky rice, green beans, and pork. All ingredients will be wrapped in green leaves in square-shaped and boiled overnight. Its the shape of the square stands for a symbol of Earth – according to a legend. Currently, one can strive Banh Chung all year round though, tasting this kind of cake at Tet holiday brings the Vietnamese people special feelings, especially when they stay up late to take care of Banh Chung which are boiled with their grandfathers and grandmothers. At the moment writing such these things, the memories when I spent time taking care of the boiled Banh Chung with my grandmother are vividly visible in my mind. Such a wonderful moment it was.
Jam is a prevalent snack to greet guests on the Tet holiday. The snack itself is mainly made from dried fruits such as coconuts, carrots, apples or other kind of seeds like roasted watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds mixed with sugar. It is believed that eating such sweet things on the Lunar New Year will bring people luck for the year ahead.
The Vietnamese people, in the Lunar New Year event, tend to eat more fat and oiled foods that easily cloy their appetites. Thus, it is the time for something low calories and fresh like pickled onions. This simple food helps the digestive system digest high protein food effectively. In Vietnam, the Tet holiday will only complete when people totally eat fat meat, pickled onions, and red distiches. Along with such delicious dishes, there are manifold different signature dishes like spring rolls, boiled chicken, sticky rice, and Vietnamese sausages.
Tet Holiday Mascots
Each Lunar New Year in Vietnam has its own symbolic animals. 12 Vietnamese Zodiac signs are truly different from Chinese ones as the 4th Zodiac sign of Vietnam is Cat while in China, it is Rabbit). Each animal is believed to bring unique luck in its year; thus, you can see them everywhere in Vietnam from decorations to advertisements. Vietnamese Tet Holiday 2021 is the year of Buffalo.
Tet Holiday Trees & Flowers
People in northern Vietnam tend to have Peach blossom while others in southern Vietnam have apricot blossom trees for their Tet holiday. The red color of peach blossom is considered to bring luck while the yellow one which is from apricot blossom trees stands for the fortune to the owners. Besides Peach blossom, people living in northern Vietnam also buy kumquat trees for the Tet holiday.
The tree is originally a 5-meter-tall bamboo shot. Based on each region of the owner, the chop of the Neu tree will hang different things such as votive papers, alcohol bottles which are made of straw, or amulet exorcism. Neu tree stands for a symbol that lets devils away from the place of living people.
Tray of Five Fruits
In Tet holiday, each family has a tray of five different fruits like bananas, oranges, grapefruits, or other tropical fruits that are only prepared on the Lunar New Year of Vietnam. However, it is based on which region the families follow to choose fruits. The tray of five fruits is tended to used to express the wishes of the family by the names, colors, and arrangements.
How Tet Holiday is Celebrated in Vietnam
Before Tet Holiday
Gods and Goddess of Kitchen – Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao
The Vietnamese prepare the traditional offerings and especially the carps to regale the 3 Gods and goddesses of their kitchen on the 23rd of the last month in the lunar calendar. They, then, release the carps into a river or lake and these releasing fishes will be used by Gods and Goddess as their transportations to come to heaven to report everything that happened in the previous year of their family to the Jade Emperor. After that, they will be back on the last day of the year to celebrate Lunar New Year with the family. Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao will take place on January 17th.
House Cleaning Tradition
A week before the Tet holiday happens, all members of a family will carefully clean their house, garden, and altars along with redecorating them all together. Broken pieces of furniture will be repaired or even threw away. Old things will be replaced by new ones. The Vietnamese do such a thing with the same purpose – to welcome the New Year with the best and to get lucky.
The Last Day of the Year
On the last of the old year, every member of a family (different generations) will gather around a grand banquet to enjoy the last feast of the year and recall what they’ve done. The ambiance at such a moment is immensely cozy and happy.
When it comes to New Year Eve, the youths tend to go out to marvel at firework performance while the elderly and adults will stay at home to make offerings boiled chicken, rice, salt, and other things outdoor for worshipping to the Gods and indoor for their ancestors.
Then, when the firework performance ends, the youths come back home and one of them will be chosen to be the first one entering the house in the new year based on their horoscopes because they are believed that their wishes to the host will come true. After that, everyone will gather once again.
During Tet Holiday
Tet holiday generally lasts for 3 days; thus, people tend to stay at home to welcome guests to their houses or go out to visit their relatives and neighborhoods. Their relatives receive wishes for their health and fortune and success for adults while lucky money for the youth. Also, the Vietnamese tend to go to the pagodas to donate money and wish for lucks and fortune.
Festival After Vietnamese Tet Holiday
When votive papers are burned as well as offerings are taken down from the altars, Tet ends. It’s time for people to get into festivals all around the country like buffalo fighting or boat racing festival… Festivals are celebrated for a month after the Tet holiday; hence, you can easily enjoy them.
Tet Holiday Calendar and the Corresponding Zodiac Signs
|2020||January, 25th, 2020||Rat|
|2021||February 12th, 2021||Buffalo|
|2022||February 1st, 2022||Tiger|
|2023||January 22nd, 2023||Cat|
|2024||February 10th, 2024||Dragon|
|2025||January 29th, 2025||Snake|
|2026||February 17th, 2026||Horse|
|2027||February 6th, 2027||Goat|
|2028||January 26th, 2028||Monkey|
|2029||February 13th, 2029||Chicken|
|2030||February 3rd, 2030||Dog|