As a result of being calculated by the lunar calendar, Tet often occurs at the end of January, which is later than the New Year’s Day. As the longest public holiday in Vietnam, Tet is the most wonderful time for all foreign tourists to spend their vacation in Vietnam enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring one of the oldest holidays in the World. Tet holiday 2019 is on February 5th, 2019 (New Year Eve is the previous day).
Tet holiday can be divided into three periods, known as “Tất Niên” (Before New Year’s Eve), “Giao Thừa” (New Year’s Eve), and “Tân Niên” (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tet, the eve of Tet, and the days following Tet, respectively.
Preparing for Tet holiday:
This period begins one or two weeks before the actual celebration. The general atmosphere leading up to Tet is in the bustle of shopping, decorating the home, cooking traditional Tet food and waiting for relatives to return home. Parents buy new clothes for their children so that the children can wear them when Tet arrives.
In the days leading up to Tet, the streets and markets are full of people. As the shops will be closed during Tet, everyone is busy buying food, clothes, and decorations for their house.
Ông Táo (Kitchen Gods):
On the 23rd of the last month in the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people clean up the kitchen, prepare the traditional offerings such as food, fruits, paper clothes and especially living carps to regale Kitchen Gods. It is said that Kitchen God’s task is reporting to the King of Heaven about the family’s affairs throughout the year and to wish for a lucky and prosperous new year. After the ceremony, the craps will be free to the nearby lake or river and paper clothes will be burned.
The festive dishes
The best feature of cuisine on Tet holiday is “Banh Chung” (Chung cake) which is made from very familiar ingredients of Vietnam such as sticky rice, green beans, pork and wrapped in green leaves before being 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 unique ingredients of Vietnamese agriculture.
The next dish is Mứt Tết (Tet jam), which likes a snack to welcome guests in this special period. This once-in-year mix of snack is very large in variety, with so many tastes: ginger, carrot, coconut, pineapple, pumpkin, lotus seed, star fruit, etc.
Besides, Vietnamese people have many other traditional dishes for this special holiday, and they tend to invite friends or relatives to come home for meals to enjoy the family time.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve, the most sacred time of the year for many, is called “Giao Thừa”. On the last day of the year, every member of different generations gathers around a grand banquet to enjoy the last meal of year. At midnight, while younger family members head out for countdown and fireworks show, older generations usually stay at home and offer both indoor and outdoor ceremonies. Open-air ceremony is made to send thanks to gods. Right after that, the indoor ceremony takes place. People light up incenses on the altar and whisper to invite the spirit of ancestors to come back home, celebrating the Tet holiday with the whole family and wishing for a great new year. It shows the tradition of Vietnamese people: “When you eat a fruit, think of the man who planted the tree”.
Give lucky money (Lì xì)
On the first day of Tet holiday, the whole family will dress up and gather together to offer New Year’s greetings and wishes to each other. The elders will give their children the wishes of luck, obedience, well-studying for the New Year and a red envelope containing ‘lucky money.’
The beginning of the year is always considered to be the crucial one that can influence the whole year. Therefore, the first-guest to visit the house is very important because that person believed to bring luck, success and happiness for the family. The first-guest is expected to be someone who is well-educated, good manner, success and well-respected in the society. It is also essential to note that the zodiac sign of this first-visitor should match or harmonize with the owner of the house.
Tet holiday is the day of hope, because on that day, all people pray and wish for a year of good weather, bumper harvests. The Tet holiday also the day of luck because all people think that what happen in the Tet holiday has a special connection to all the things of the year. Therefore, on Tet holiday, people always do the good things, say the good sentences especially is the wishes of good health, good luck and wealth.