Lunar New Year, commonly known by its Vietnamese name-Tet or Tet Nguyen Dan, is the most important traditional holiday in Vietnam to welcome the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar. Tet is the midpoint between the old and the new year, it marks a new operating cycle of the earth and every living species. The dates of Tet differ every year, however, it normally happens from late January till February.
Tet is considered as the most sacred and solemn occasion in Vietnamese people’s spiritual life. It contains the concept of life as well as the customs and beliefs with the deep unique traditional culture, reflecting the harmony between human and nature.
From the family perspective, as a sacred and lasted habit, Tet is an opportunity for gathering all members to remember the ancestors and wish for a flourish upcoming new year. Let’s take a look at some typical traditions and customs of this special holiday in Vietnam.
1. Flower markets
From the middle of December in the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people become so accustomed to spontaneous flower market along the street adjacent to Tet holiday.
Flower market in Tet is always crowded with so many kinds of trees and flowers in a variety of colours. People tend to go to the flower market not only for shopping but also to meet and to enjoy the festive atmosphere of Tet after a year of working hard. You will see all kinds of people browsing the market—from florists and vendors, to photographers, people who just seeking some pretty flowers, and even loving couples who want to enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Although the weather is usually so cold, people still put on jackets and have a walk around, enjoying the colours and elegance.
During Tet, every house is usually decorated by apricot blossom (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam) or peach blossom flower (in the northern part of Vietnam). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room. Its bright orange-coloured fruits represent the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year.
2. Countdown party
The New Year’s Eve is the last night of one lunar year which is the transition an old year and new one. It is a very important night for a year. A new year comes, the old expect to get more longevity and the young more mature. New Year’s Eve brings the meaning of banishing evil spirits, evil spirits, all evil things in the old year, and carrying many good lucks to the New Year. This is considered a period of rest, to let go of the troubles, the night of silence and the divine.
Once upon a time, The New Year’s Eve is the time for the whole family to gather and give each other the best word for the new year. However, in recent year, The New Year’s Eve is the time for fans to look forward to a grand feast with innovative ideas, modern technology and explosive performances from domestic and international stars. Join the countdown party, the audience could have the chance to enjoy the perfect harmony between sound – light – high technology.
3. Traditional New Year Meals
Vietnamese cuisine is usually the most quintessential and it shows both the respect and the pious gratitude to ancestors and God as well as hospitality to friends and guests.
Chung cake or Vietnamese sticky rice cake has been an indispensable dish on the list of Tet holiday’s food for thousand years. It is obviously the most traditional and the most important dish in every family. Legend has it that Chung cake appeared on the Hung dynasty. Main ingredients of Chung cake symbolize for every element of the earth and emphasize the important role of rice and nature in water rice culture. In contrast to the fast food in modern life, the process of making Chung cake is time-consuming and requires the contribution of several people.
Besides, there are so many kinds of dishes in a different region for Tet such as Gio cha (pork sausage), Dua hanh (Vegetable pickles), Xoi Gac (Vietnamese Red Sticky Rice), Mut (Candied fruits) … which make Vietnamese traditional cuisine so varied and diverse, have its own meanings.
Tet has a very special attached meaning to all Vietnamese people. It is the time for everybody to come back to their hometown, gathering with family, visiting relatives and having a good relaxing time after a hard-working year. If you have the opportunity to visit Vietnam during Tet holiday, it would be an unforgettable experience to explore Vietnamese cultures, customs, and tradition.