Celebrating Tet Holiday Traditions in Vietnam
Tet (Tết) is the celebration of the Lunar New Year and it is the most important holiday season in Vietnam. It is short for Tet Nguyen Dan which means “Festival of the First Morning of the First Day”. Now, it is commonly known as “Lunar New Year Festival” in Vietnamese.
Tet marks the arrival of the spring season, going by the Vietnamese calendar. The date usually falls on either the month of January or February. The Tet holiday season usually lasts for 5-7 days. For this year, it begins on January 29 and ends on February 6, with February 1 being the first day of the Lunar New Year.
During this week-long holiday, the Vietnamese follow various customs that reflect their respect for their ancestors as well as wishing all the best for their family as they gather together to welcome the Lunar New Year.
Customs and Traditions
The 23rd day of the last lunar month is known as “Kitchen God Day”. According to Vietnamese culture, the God of the Kitchen, the God of the Land and House, and the God of the Market are the guardians of homes and properties. On that day, they return to Heaven with prayers for the people and come back to Earth on New Year’s Eve. This is when people clean their houses and prepare traditional offerings as a farewell gift for the gods.
From the 26th to the 28th day of the last lunar month, the Vietnamese prepare the traditional Banh Chung – a square cake of glutinous rice with pork meat and mung beans, wrapped in bamboo or banana leaves. This is a traditional New Year food that symbolises their appreciation for their ancestors and to honour the bounty of their homeland.
Filial piety is an important tenet in the Vietnamese family way of life. That’s why most homes have ancestral altars to honour their legacy. These altars are cleaned and decorated for the coming new year. Special rites are performed which include lighting candles, burning incense, offering food and wine, and praying before the altar. Family members also visit cemeteries to pay homage to their beloved dead.
New Year’s Eve is the final day of the lunar month. According to tradition, this is the last day to settle all accounts, debts, quarrels, and events of the past year. Preparations include house cleaning, which represents the sweeping away of any bad luck from the old year. Homes are decorated with colourful orchids, chrysanthemums, or golden apricot flowers, kumquat trees or peach blossom branches, and traditional red ornaments such as lanterns and banners inscribed with characters that represent wishes of luck, prosperity, and New Year greetings. A tray of five fruits is also prepared which is comprised of either papaya, mango, watermelon, coconut, pomelo or melon.
Families get together for the Lunar New Year’s Eve Feast. Traditional Tet fare includes Banh Chung, Thit Kho (braised pork with eggs), Thit Dong (frozen chopped cooked meat with pickled onion), Gio Thu (steamed or boiled pig’s head, diced and wrapped in a banana leaf), Cu Kieu (pickled scallion head), Tom Kho (dried shrimp), Ga Luoc (boiled chicken), Xoi Gac (sticky rice), and Cha Lua (pork bologna).
Li Xi or “Lucky Money” is given to children in the form of red envelopes with money inside. This is also symbolic for wishing them good fortune and prosperity for the Lunar New Year. Gifts are also exchanged among family members. Watching firework shows and festive activities such as drum performances, musical shows, and lion and dragon dances are also part of the celebration to greet the New Year.
The remaining days of the Tết holiday are spent on visiting relatives: first on the father’s side, then the mother’s side, then other relatives, teachers, and friends. Mứt or candied fruits placed in beautiful boxes are usually served to visiting guests. The more popular varieties include Mut Dua (coconut), Mut Bi (dry butternut squash), Mut Me (tamarind), and Mut Gung (ginger). Other religious customs include visiting pagodas to offer prayers of thanksgiving and to receive New Year blessings, and the burning of offerings near the end of the holiday season as part of the rite to honour their ancestors.
New Year Greetings from The Talent Consultants
As the premier recruitment agency in Vietnam, we at The Talent Consultants would like to extend our warmest greetings to all who celebrate the Tet holiday. May this Lunar New Year be filled with happiness, peace, and prosperity for you, your family, your friends, and for everyone you hold dear.
As we welcome the New Year, we are ready to help you start the year right with great career opportunities for job seekers and with our extensive resources to find the most highly qualified talent for your organisation. For more information about our talent sourcing consultancy and workforce management consultancy services, contact us here or give us a call on +84 28 7309 7991.
Chuc Mung Nam Moi! Happy New Year to all!