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Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in Vietnam

While people in many Western countries are eager for welcoming the new year of 2013, people in many Eastern countries including Vietnam are eagerly waiting for their Lunar New Year which is called “Tết” in Vietnamese. Not only wishing for a new coming year with good health, luck and success, Tet holiday is also a special occasion for members of Vietnamese families to reunite, relax and celebrate together and visit their beloved after one year of hard working. It can be said that Tet holiday best epitomizes the Vietnam’s cultural identity. Only staying in Vietnam during these days, especially participating in a local family, foreigners feel the utmost of beauty of cultural and spiritual life of Vietnamese.

Read more: Vietnamese Lunar New Year


Tet in the three regions along Vietnam can be divided into three periods, known as “Tất Niên” (before New Year’s Eve), “Giao Thừa” (New Year’s Eve), and “Năm Mới” (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tết, the Eve of Tết, and the days of and following Tết, respectively. There are many customs practiced by the Vietnamese during their Tet holiday, including decorating houses, ancestor worshiping, giving away red envelopes (filled with lucky money) to children and elderly people, visiting families of their beloved with wishes of health, success and happiness and many other. Children are said to be the most eager for Tet holiday, because during these days, they can be free from school, get new clothes from parents, take lucky money, and free to spend their new money on toys or on games.

Read more: Parallels & Fireworks in Tet | “Mam Ngu Qua” sends Tet traditional flavours


Besides popular customs performed nationwide in Vietnam, each region celebrates Tet in its own way. The most obvious difference is indicated in the blossoms decorated in each house during Tet holidays. No matter how poor or rich they are, the northern Vietnamese cannot enter their Tet without a twig of pink peach blossom in their homes, while the southerners need a small branch of yellow apricot blossom. Eating habit also displays a difference among three regions along the country. If in the North, the menu for the Tet banquet includes not-to-be-missed Banh chung (square rice cake), pig trotters stewed with dried bamboo shoots, boiled chicken, cauliflower or onion fried with pig lean pork. In Hue, the must-have menu contains Banh tet (round shaped glutinous rice cake), sugarcoated coconut, roasted melon seeds, and different pork dishes. And in the South, with Ho Chi Minh City as typical, every family has a pot of pork cooked in coconut milk with salt, giving cooked food a special flavor. Even you stay in any area in Vietnam during Tet holiday, you are assured to experience special moments.

Read more: “Giò” – Vietnamese dainty morsel in Spring | “Mứt Tết”, very delicious preserved fruit!

Seven days (the 23rd night of the last lunar month) prior to Tet, each Vietnamese family offers a farewell ceremony for Ong Tao to go up to Heaven Palace. His task is to make an annual report to the Jade Emperor of the family’s affairs throughout the year.

The first day of the New Year before noontime is the time families honor the souls of their ancestors and present the welfare of the family. The head of the household should perform the proper ritual (offering food, wine, cakes, fruits, and burn incense) to invite the souls of the ancestors to join the celebration with the family.

Giving away red envelopes (filled with lucky money) is a cultural practice that has been maintained for generations. The red envelopes symbolize luck and wealth. This greeting ritual and Li Xi is also known as Mung Tuoi, honoring the achievement of another year to one’s life.

Tet is really a family holiday and everyone goes home and spends time with the loved ones so do not be surprised to see empty streets with mosts of closed shops on the first days of the lunar new year.

In Vietnam, it is crucial for picking who will be the first person entering the house on the first day of Tet as the person will determine or influence the well being and happiness of the family for the upcoming year.

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