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Tet Holiday – Vietnam Traditional Lunar New Year

ABROADER December 09, 2022 6 minute read

Tet Holiday – an occasion to enjoy life after a full hard-working year. So how do we celebrate Tet Holiday in Vietnam? Follow us in this blog!

Tet Holiday – Tet Nguyen Dan, more commonly known by its shortened name Tet. It is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar. The name Tet Nguyen Dan is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning. Tet Holiday is coming so let’s take a look at some traditions and customs of this special holiday in Vietnam.

Tet Holiday 2023 calendar – Year of the cat 🐱

The dates of the Lunar New Year differ every year but it generally takes place around late January or February. This year, under the plan from the government, officials, civil servants, and workers of public agencies will begin their 2023 Tet holiday from January 20 (the 29th day of the 12th lunar month) to January 26 (the fifth day of the first lunar month). In this time period, companies (including ABROADER) in the country will not be working to celebrate the great holiday of the year.

Tet Holiday 2023 calendar

Tet is different from Chinese New Year

Credit: Kris Nguyen

While Tet shares many similarities with the Chinese New Year such as the Lunar Calendar system, there is more to differentiate. For instance, the zodiac animal of 2023 is Cat while in other countries, the spiritual animal is Lyn. Vietnamese people consider Tet Holiday the best occasion for family members to return home and get together. During Tet, Vietnamese spend time shopping for the New Year and going to Pagodas and Temples. The items of shopping range from food to clothing to decorations for the house. The Vietnamese believe that Tet Holiday is an occasion to enjoy life after a full hard-working year. Thus people forget their struggles and focus on making the celebration as festive as possible. With high regard, Tet is unique, with distinctive colors and flavors of truly celebrating the new year.

Food

Family meal on Tet holiday – Cre: elLotte

Banh chung (Sticky square cake)

Banh Chung is a food that they make from glutinous rice, mung bean, and pork, added with many other ingredients. It is covered by green leaves and symbolizes the Earth, invented by prince Lang Lieu from the Hung King dynasty. Banh Chung is the main food for the Tet holiday because it can last for long days in Vietnamese weather. And families usually store Banh Chung at room temperature for nearly 1 month.

Gio, cha (Vietnamese sausage)

Vietnamese ham/sausage – Gio/Cha is another traditional food on Tết holiday. We usually serve it with Xoi (sticky rice) and Banh Chung. Gio is different from Cha since Gio is boiled and Cha is deep-fried. Cha is also made of lean pork and ingredients. However, they do not wrap Cha in leaves and boiled but deep-fried in oil.

Thit kho hot vit (Braised Pork Belly with Duck Egg)

This dish is more popular in the South than in the North. However, no one can deny the irresistible aroma, flavor, and great compatibility of this dish. People cook Pork Belly and Egg with coconut juice and fish sauce. When it is cooked, it becomes tender and absorbs all those unique flavors. The dish is so universal and easy to make. Therefore, it has become one of the most popular dishes served during the Tet Holiday.

Xoi (Sticky rice)

Xoi is also a very important part of the Tet holiday in Vietnam. Along with Banh Chung, Xoi is the main staple food for the Tết holiday. It has many forms: Xoi Lac (sticky rice with peanuts), Xoi Đo Xanh (sticky rice with mung bean), Xoi Gac (sticky rice with special “gac” fruit). Among these types, xôi gấc is the favorite the most people because of its special red color – which symbolizes luck and new achievement for the New Year.

Mut (Sugar-coated fruit)

Mut Tet (Tet Sugar-coated fruit) is not a food to serve in a meal during the Tet holiday. It’s more like a snack to welcome guests in this special period. This once-in-year mix of snacks is very large in variety, with so many tastes: ginger, carrot, coconut, pineapple, pumpkin, lotus seed, star fruit, etc.

And there is also a lot more unique food in Vietnam, awaiting you to try. Find out more right here.

Traditional customs

Even though many Vietnamese traditions are based on old cultural beliefs that may strike some as a little superstitious, families believe that their activities during Tet must involve happiness, joy, and good luck. Below are some of the popular, long-standing Tet traditional customs that have stood the test of time from generation to generation.

Giving Li xi (lucky money)

The first day of the Tet holiday is for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called “mung tuoi” (happy new age) in the north and lì xì in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional Tết greetings before receiving the money.

And we want to wish you good luck, happiness, and a meaningful and adventurous new year with our red envelopes of:

Xông nhà

Since the Vietnamese believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, people never enter any house on the first day without being invited first. People call the act of being the first person to enter the home on Tet Holiday “xong dat, xong nha or dap dat”, which is one of the most important rituals during Tết. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to the family on the first day of the lunar New Year, the following year will also be full of blessings. Usually, a person of good temper, morality, and success will be a lucky sign for the host family.
During subsequent days, people visit relatives and friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second and even painting their home in anticipation of spring, settle old debts and disputes, and pledge to behave nicely and work hard in the new year.

Decorations

Traditionally, each family displays “Cay neu”, an artificial New Year Tree consisting of a bamboo pole 5 to 6 m long. The top end is usually decorated with many objects, depending on the locality, including good luck charms, origami fish, cactus branches, etc.
At Tet, we decorate every house with “hoa mai” – Ochna integerrima (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam) or “hoa đao” – cherry blossom (in the northern part of Vietnam) or “hoa ban” (in mountain areas). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during Tet. Its bright orange-colored fruits represent the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year. And how to decorate the house, you can reference this article.

House decoration. Cre: Arture Design

The New Year is coming around the corner. Chuc mung name moi and may you have a year of exploring starting with a journey to Vietnam!

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