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Vietnamese traditional Tet customs

Traditional Tet is a holiday which Vietnamese people celebrate the transition between the old year and the New Year. This holiday is calculated according to the lunar calendar and although the transition between two years is only a few minutes, Vietnamese people celebrate the traditional New Year for many days.


In the past, the traditional Tet sometimes lasted from December to the end of March of the lunar calendar.

Today, the time to celebrate the traditional Tet in Vietnam has almost shortened, only about 7-10 days.

Some regions still keep the custom of celebrating Tet longer, about half a month or a little more.

In addition to the meaning of saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new year, the Vietnamese traditional New Year also has the meaning of reunion and happiness.

On the occasion of the Traditional New Year, Vietnamese people, no matter how far they work, always try to return to their homeland to gather with their families to welcome the new year.

Then, on Tet days, Vietnamese people give up all their work, let their souls be comfortable, relax and have fun, go to each other to wish each other Tet. Many festivals are held on the occasion of Traditional New Year depending on the characteristics of each locality.

In addition, the Traditional New Year is also an opportunity for Vietnamese people to express their respect to Heaven and Earth, gods and filial piety to ancestors and the deceased. Therefore, on this festival, the Vietnamese have many unique rituals and customs. Depending on each religion and belief, these rituals and customs have their own differences.

Moreover, the Traditional New Year is also an opportunity for people to let go of the sorrows, failures, worries of the old year and believe and hope that the new year will be luckier and more successful.

With all the above meanings, the Vietnamese prepare the Traditional New Year very elaborately, decorate their houses beautifully, cook many delicious dishes and perform traditional customs for good luck.

Traditional Vietnamese New Year lasts for at least 7 days, so this holiday is divided into different phases:

Period 1: Prepare before Tet

This period usually lasts from the 22nd to the 30th day of the lunar calendar. During this period, the Vietnamese will clean the house, throw away the old or no longer used items, paint the house to make the new house look more beautiful. After that, the Vietnamese will buy ornamental plants and fresh flowers to decorate the house. Next is the worshiping ceremony to see Tao God off to Heaven. According to the Vietnamese point of view, Mr. Tao is the god who governs the house and the kitchen, bringing peace to the owner. Every year, Tao God will return to Heaven to report to the Jade Emperor once about the household's status in the year. Therefore, before Tao God returns to Heaven, many Vietnamese people will make offerings. Besides, during the preparation period before Tet, Vietnamese people will also make many typical dishes of Tet such as wrapping banh chung, banh tet, making Tet jams, Tet cakes... These dishes are used to eat during Tet. After New Year's Eve, Vietnamese people rarely make these traditional dishes anymore, so most of these are dishes that last for a long time and are not easily damaged. In these days, people often go to give each other Tet gifts. These can be pre-purchased gifts or handmade gifts. This custom of giving Tet gifts is for Vietnamese people to express their love and care for each other.

Year-end parties are also held during this period. This is a party where the owner makes many delicious dishes and invites relatives, friends, and neighbors to come and have a good meal. People will talk about what happened in the old year and maybe talk about the plans and plans to do in the New Year.


Period 2: Lunar New Year

This period starts from New Year's Eve and lasts until at least the 6th day of the Lunar New Year. At the time of New Year's Eve (ie 24h on the 30th day to 1h on the 1st day of the lunar calendar), Vietnamese people will joyfully welcome the New Year. Many people will do New Year's Eve offerings, many people go to see fireworks, go to church, go to temples or go to crowded public places to celebrate the New Year together.

Starting to enter the first days of the New Year, Vietnamese people will have a lot of taboo practices to limit bad luck and wish for luck to come. For example, people will try not to say bad words, bad things. Instead, Vietnamese people will talk to each other gently, with more joyful stories, so that the New Year will be as joyful.

There are also many other taboo customs such as not sweeping and dumping garbage, not breaking furniture and dishes, not borrowing or paying debts, not giving others water and fire, not picking up money that falls on the street, no eat some dishes such as dog meat, cat meat, duck meat, shrimp for fear of bad luck... in the first days of the year.

According to the old custom, on the first day of Tet, Vietnamese people will go to wish their grandparents, parents, and paternal relatives. On the 2nd day are relatives on the mother’s relative. The 3rd day of Tet New Year is to wish the teachers who have taught them. From the 4th, Vietnamese people begin to wish New Year's greetings to friends and colleagues or go out for travelling more comfortably.

During this period of the Traditional New Year, Vietnamese people will do many things to wish the new year to be lucky, happy and prosperous. For example, going to pick fortune, departing on a good day, opening a profession, giving lucky money / celebrating the age of each other... In the past, Vietnamese people often only celebrated Tet in their homeland, rarely going far. But now, traditional customs are no longer as focused as in the past, Vietnamese people are much more open to traditional Tet. Therefore, many people choose to travel far away to make the most of the holiday time for the most private rest. It can be famous tourist destinations in the country or abroad. Because the traditional Tet holiday usually lasts at least 7 days, for many families, this is a rare occasion in the year when they can go on a long trip together.

Period 3: End of Tet

This is the shortest period of the Traditional New Year, depending on each family and each locality, this period is different. This period starts from the last day of phase 2, that is, after Tet, Vietnamese people will make offerings to end of Tet, clean up the house, remove ornamental plants and decorations in the house, rearrange the furniture back to normal. After that, people will return to work and daily life. Many taboo customs no longer need to be kept. The festivals also end, those who go to work far away will leave their homeland to the place where they work.

Thus, it can be seen that the Traditional New Year is a sacred and very important occasion for Vietnamese people. In addition to Vietnam, some other countries in Asia also have traditional Tet at the end of the year such as China, Korea, Singapore...