Tet Nguyen Dan, commonly known as with its shortened name Tet, is the most important holiday of Vietnamese marking the arrival of spring. Derived from the Han script, “Nguyen” means the beginning and “Dan” means the early morning. Therefore, the Feast of the First Morning is the meaning of the name Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet takes place in the morning of the first month to at least 3 days after based on Lunar Calendar (around late January or early February). However, to prepare for Tet thoughtful, Vietnamese usually spend about 2 weeks before it especially for a traditional custom on December 23 of the previous year, named “Ông Công Ông Táo” – Vietnamese’s kitchen Gods according to a legend of forefather.
What is the Meanings of Tet Holiday?
As for Vietnamese, Tet has many profoundly human culture values that they have been preserving for a thousand generations.
Tet is the expression of sympathetic relationship among human, gods, heaven and earth. Considered from the relationship between human and Nature, Tet falls on the beginning of a new harvest when the weather gets warmer and plants start budding and blossoming out after a long cold winter. As the result, people assume that Tet is the appropriate occasion to show their commemoration of the Gods like Gods of the Sun, water, earth and thunder, etc involved in a poor or good harvest. This is also a chance for them to be express their gratefulness to plants, cattle, and poultry that helped them over a year.
Tet is the Day of Reuniting Family’s Members
When Tet almost comes, wherever you are, whatever you do, people try to come back home to reunite with their family at least first 3 days of Tet, visit their relatives, reform the graves of ancestors or burn incense to the ancestral altar, etc.
Tet is to Refresh Ourselves
Tet is the first day of the year, therefore, everyone will clean their house, buy new clothes, try to pay off all debts and forget all the trouble of the past year. Everything must be done to ready for an upcoming year with good things waiting ahead.
Tet Holiday Cuisine
Banh Chung (Steamed Square Cake)
Known as one of the must-have dishes in a meal of Vietnamese in Tet, “Bánh Chưng” is made from sticky rice, mung bean, green bean and pork with many different spices and ingredients. Invested by Prince Lang Lieu of Hung King Dynasty, “Bánh Chưng” represents for the Earth with the cover of mung bean in square shape and the middle of the rice, then mixed green bean and pork. Other traditional dishes Vietnamese eat for Tet are “gio” and “cha”. “Gio” is boiled, otherwise, “cha” is deep-fried. Vietnamese usually eat them with “Banh Chung” or sticky rice.
Thit Ga (Boiled or Steamed Chicken)
Nowadays, some families has changed the cooking method of “thịt gà” by roasting or firing it. However, the most common way is still boil or steam chicken then serve it in a plate in the whole or slices. Besides, lemon leaves, salt and pepper sauce are spices that can be missed when eating this traditional dish. Some parts of chicken includes legs, heads and bones will be used to cook other food like soups.
Mut (Candied Fruits)
Not be a dish in a meal, “Mứt Tết” is a favorite kind of snack Vietnamese use to greet their guest of this special occasion. This jam can be made from various types of fruits like coconut, carrot, ginger, star fruit, pineapple or lotus seed, etc. with an eye-catching look and delicious flavor.
How Vietnamese Lunar New Year is Celebrated in Vietnam?
Before Tet Holiday
House Cleaning & Decoration
According to Vietnamese culture, luck and fortune will come to the clean, neat, and tidy houses on Tet Holiday. Therefore, it is commonly believed that the cleaner the house is, the luckier the host will be. The flower is an important decorating item of each family in Tet Holiday. According to each region in Vietnam, people will buy different flowers. Peach blossoms and kumquat trees are the popular flowers of the North. On the other hand, in the central and southern, people like using “hoa mai” – Ochoa intermarriage. Vietnamese believe that the more flowers blooms, the more prosperous their family will be.
Kitchen Gods Farewell Ceremony
In some people’s opinion, the Vietnamese New Year even starts from the 23rd of December with the Kitchen Gods Farewell Ceremony. In more detail, Kitchen Gods are the ones who know everything happening in your house, and their responsibility is to report to the King of Heaven about the family’s affairs throughout the year and to wish the best things for the new year. People often release the carps to the nearby lake or river as their means of transportation.
New Year’s Eve Offerings
New Year’s Eve, as known as “Giao thua”, is the connection time between two years when the Vietnamese people prepare the altar and traditional dishes to worship the gods. Its meaning is to say good-bye to the previous year and welcome the next year. The offering simply includes a boiled chicken, a bowl of cooked rice, flowers (usually roses), fruits, beverage and Joss paper.
During Tet Holiday
Xong Nha (First Guest Visits your House in the First Day of the Year)
All Vietnamese believe that the first guest visiting a family will dispose of their future for the whole year. The age of visitor supposes to be appropriate with the age of host based on the Chinese zodiac. Besides, a person who are morality, good temper and success are usually more invited by the Vietnamese.
In Tet Holiday, along with new clothes, Vietnamese children are very excited because they will also receive lucky money contained in small red envelopes from their elders after giving them best wishes about health. Vietnamese call this tradition “mừng tuổi” in the North and lì xì in the South.
After Tet Holiday
It is time Vietnamese people spend on vacations to pagodas or temple where colorful and exciting festivals are taken place. They also come to visit houses of neighbors and relatives to give them the best wishes for the new year.
Guidelines for Tourists When Visiting Vietnam in Tet Holiday
Tet Holiday 2019 takes place on February 5th and lasts for about 7 days. Here are some useful tips for tourists if they want to visit Vietnam in Tet Holiday.
- Make sure your travel plans and arrangement in advance because at these days most of the transportation means do not work especially train, bus and renting services of motorbike or car, etc. However, Vietnamese do not travel much in Tet Holiday, as the result, there is no worry about booking a hotel or restaurant.
- As for sightseeing, tourists can not visit some attractions like museums, mausoleums, indoors exhibition place and art houses since they usually open after at least first 4 days of Tet Holiday.
- Fortunately, at that time, in some big cities like Hanoi, Saigon, the first 3 days of Tet are very quiet without transportation means because of a large number of people returning to hometown to visit their family already. Therefore, this is a good chance of enjoying the peaceful landscapes.
- Most of the stores will be closed in Tet. Otherwise, few big markets like Dong Xuan Market and Ben Thanh Market still open. Moreover, sellers will not rise the price because based on idealist conception, they want to their business be fluent in the early of the year.
Do’s & Dont’s on Tet Holiday
What Should be Done on Tet Holiday?
Paying all the Debts before Tet
The Vietnamese people believe that it is bad luck if you are still keeping the debts and borrowed things of the old year. It can also mean they can be stuck in debts in the New Year as they did in the old year. Thus, pay all debts and give things back to the owners before Tet, even the tiny ones!
Cleaning & Decorating the house
On the last few days of the old year, the Vietnamese will clean their houses, gardens, and altars. They also decorate their house with colorful stuff like peach trees, balloons or couplets. Not only does it bring a bright appearance to the house but it is also considered as a successful brand new start to the family members.
Though people can dress up every single day, Tet is still a special occasion to wear new and beautiful outfits. According to the conception of getting more luck in the New Year, the Vietnamese often choose bright colorful clothes such as red, yellow and blue, which are some common colors symbolizing good luck and prosperity. Besides, traditional costumes like colorful “ao dai” are dominantly chosen, which are easily seen overwhelmingly all over this S-shaped country.
A smile could be a magical tool to put anyone in a relaxed mood since it brings joy and enhances relationships among people. When visiting Vietnam during Tet, you’ll rarely see someone not smiling. During Tet, people refrain themselves from getting angry or depressed and put an instant smile on their faces to hope for a happy new year.
What Should not be Done on Tet Holiday?
Saying Bad Words or Negative Topics
The Vietnamese people do not say bad things and avoid debating to others during Tet holiday because it can bring them an inharmonic and stormy year. When there are any conflicts, remember to keep calm and solve it peacefully.
Sweeping the House
Sweeping house or emptying the trash bin in Tet holiday, especially on the first day of the new year, is considered to give away all luck and money out of the house. Therefore, when visiting the Vietnamese house in Tet, you should avoid throwing trashes onto the floor. If necessary, ask the homeowner first to avoid unwanted problems.
Wearing Black or White clothes
Black and white are mainly used in Vietnamese funeral, thus it is an unlucky sign if you wear these color clothes in Tet holiday. However, if you really want to wear your favorite white shirt, just add some colorful accessories, such as a pair of red shoes or a yellow handbag.
It is obvious that no one wants to have a “broken” year with the chaotic relationship or terrible study and work, right? Therefore, besides being extremely careful, you should also prepare plastic plates or cups to make sure everything is intact.
Tet Holiday Dates and its Attached Zodiac Signs
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