Tết

     

When many Americans hear the word "Tet," they immediately recall learning about the 1968 Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. But what is Tet all about?

Considered the first day of spring & most important of national holidays in Vietnam, Tet is the annual Vietnamese New Year celebration, coinciding with the Lunar New Year celebrated throughout the world in January or February.

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Technically, "Tet" is a shortened (thank goodness!) size of đầu năm mới Nguyên Đán, a way khổng lồ say "Lunar New Year" in Vietnamese.

Although Tet can be a very exciting time khổng lồ travel in Vietnam, it's also the busiest time of the year to be there. Millions of people will be moving throughout the country, returning lớn their trang chủ villages to giới thiệu reunions with friends và family. The Tet holiday will certainly affect your experience in Vietnam.

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Tired of reading? Listen lớn our below Podcast made by our BEEPODS team to learn more about the biggest & most important festival in Vietnam


Table of content

What is Vietnam Tet?


First of all, you can check the below video about Vietnamese New Year to lớn have the general idea of its meanings và traditions

Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet is the most important & popular holidays and festivals in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar, a lunisolar calendar. The name Tet Nguyen Dan is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the very First Morning.

Tet takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tet by cooking special holiday foods và cleaning their house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tet such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worship, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children & elderly people and opening a shop.

Tet is also an occasion for pilgrims và family reunions. During Tet, Vietnamese visits their relatives & temples, forgetting the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tet to be the first day of spring & the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).

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Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese believe that the color of red & yellow will bring good fortune, which may explain why these colors can be seen everywhere in Lunar New Year. People consider what they vày on the dawn of Tet will determine their fate for the whole year, hence people always smile và behave as nice as they can in the hope for a better year.

Vietnamese New Year Traditions

Tet is seen as a chance for a fresh start. Debts are settled, & old grievances are forgiven. Houses are cleaned of clutter and decorated with symbolic flowers. Plants get pruned, & drawers are cleared out. All preparations are meant khổng lồ set the stage for attracting as much luck và good fortune as possible in the upcoming year.

Superstition permeates the air: Whatever happens on the first day of the new year is thought to set the pace for the rest of the year. Sweeping và cutting (including hair and fingernails) are taboo during Tet as no one wants to lớn unknowingly remove incoming good luck!

Although Vietnamese New Year is observed for 15 days, Tet is typically celebrated for three days with some traditions observed for up to a week. The first day of Tet is usually spent with immediate family, the second day is for visiting friends, & the third day is dedicated to lớn teachers and visiting temples.

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One of the most important traditions observed during Tet is the emphasis put on who is the first to enter a house in the new year. The first person brings the luck (good or bad) for the year! Special people (who are considered successful) dear khổng lồ the family are sometimes invited và given the honor khổng lồ be the first to enter. If no one is invited, the homeowner leaves and returns a few minutes after midnight just to ensure they are the first khổng lồ enter the house for the new year.

Because the primary aim is to attract good fortune for the new year, Tet & Chinese New Year giới thiệu a lot of similar traditions.

Vietnamese people usually return khổng lồ their families during Tet. Some return to lớn worship at the family altar or visit the graves of their ancestors in their homeland. Although Tet is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region và religion has its own customs.

In general, Tet can be divided into three periods, known as tất niên cuối năm (Before New Year’s Eve), Giao thừa (New Year’s Eve), và Tân Niên (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tet, the eve of Tet, and the days of & following Tet, respectively. All of these customs are lớn celebrate Tet in Vietnam.

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The general processfollows the 9 steps as below(all dates quoted in lunar calendar):

Before New Year's Eve

Ông Công, Ông táo bị cắn Day (Kitchen God day) - December 23rdWrapping thông thường cake - December 26-28th

New Year's Eve

Family reunion and tất niên cuối năm - December 30thGiao quá - New Year's Eve: including praying sessions lớn God và Ancestors, Xông đất (First visit lớn a family in the new year)

The New Year

First three days of the new year: visit paternal side on the first day, maternal side on the second day và teachers on the third dayVisit relatives, friends and neighbours: can take place from January 3rd - 5thHóa quà - burn the offerings near Tet's kết thúc for ancestors: January 4thReopen business: usually owners pick a good date that matches their ageTết Nguyên Tiêu: January 15th

We will see more detail below in this article.

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This period begins one or two weeks before the actual celebration. The general atmosphere leading up khổng lồ Tet is in the bustle of shopping, decorating the home, cooking traditional Tet food và waiting for relatives khổng lồ return home. People try to lớn pay off their debts in advance so that they can be debt-free on Tet. Parents buy new clothes for their children so that the children can wear them when Tet arrives.

In the days leading up khổng lồ Tet, the streets and markets are full of people. As the shops will be closed during Tet, everyone is busy buying food, clothes, & decorations for their house.

Vietnamese families usually have a family altar, lớn pay respect to lớn their ancestors. Vietnamese families have a tray of five different fruits on their altar called “Ngũ Quả” (five fruits type). During Tet the altar is thoroughly cleaned và new offerings are placed there. Traditionally, the three kitchen guardians for each house (Ông Táo) (Kitchen God) return lớn heaven on the 23rd day of the twelfth month by lunar calendar to lớn give his annual report on family members khổng lồ the Jade Emperor. Their departure is marked by a modest ceremony where the family offers sacrifices for them to use on their journey.

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In the days leading up khổng lồ Tet, each family cooks special holiday foods such as bánh chưng & bánh dầy. Preparations for these foods are quite extensive. Family members often take turns to keep watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tet of past years. One of very popular traditional food in Tet is Mut (candied fruits) which is not served in the meals but a snack to welcome guests visiting house & always kept in beautiful boxes và placed at the table in the living room.

Decorations

Vietnamese families also buy trang chủ peach blossom trees, kumquat trees, and orange trees. They also buy flowers to decorate their homes such as chrysanthemums or orchids. They plant these flowers & put them into beautiful pots in front of or inside the house.

At Tet every house is usually decorated by Ochna integerrima (in the central và south Vietnam) or peach flower (in the North). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during Tet. Its many fruits symbolize the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year.

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New Year Flowers

Flowers are very important decorations for Tet. Which flowers are used depends on location in Vietnam.

All over Vietnam the most popular plant we saw was the kumquat tree. Countless times we saw men carrying kumquat trees on their motorbikes. At times it looked lượt thích the tree was driving the motorbike with just arms and legs sticking out of it.

In southern Vietnam we saw tons of yellow chrysanthemums. Flower markets were erected in fields, in parking lots, và along the road, all of them selling potted chrysanthemums not much smaller than Kara.You can also find the flower markets lượt thích this all over the world with Vietnamese communities, only the ones in Vietnamwere just ten times bigger.

Peach blossoms are also very popular. These trees are just starting lớn bloom and people would buy a branch to lớn take home, their pink flowers filling the đô thị streets.

In southern Vietnam the Hoa Mai tree is very popular, having bright yellow flowers. The amount of blooms on the tree is linked khổng lồ how fortunate that family will be.

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The first day of Tet is reserved for the nuclear family. Children wear their new clothes, give their elders the traditional Tet greetings before receiving the lucky money from them in exchange.

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The traditional greetings are “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (Happy New Year) & “Cung Chúc Tân Xuân” (gracious wishes of the new spring). People also wish each other prosperity & luck. Common wishes for tết include:

Sống thọ trăm tuổi (long life of 100 years): used by children for elders. Traditionally, everyone is one year older on Tet, so children would wish their grandparents health and longevity.An khang thịnh vượng (security, good health, & prosperity)Vạn sự như ý (may myriad things go according lớn your will)Sức khỏe mạnh dồi dào (Plenty of health)Cung hỉ phát tài - phát lộc (congratulations and be prosperous)Tiền vô như nước (many money flows in lượt thích water): used informally

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Since the Vietnamese believe that the very first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, a person of good temper, morality & success will be the lucky sign for the host family & be invited first into the house. This special activity is called xông đất or xông nhà, which is one of the most important rituals during Tet. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to lớn the family on the first day of the lunar New Year, the entire following year will also be full of blessings.

Sweeping during Tet is a taboo since it symbolizes sweeping the luck away. It is also a taboo for anyone who experienced a recent loss of a family thành viên to visit anyone else during Tết.

During subsequent days, people visit relatives & friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second day of Tet is usually reserved for friends, while the third day is for teachers, who command respect in Vietnam. Local Buddhist temples are popular spots as people like to give donations & to get their fortunes told during Tet.

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How to Say Happy New Year in Vietnamese?

Like Thai và Chinese, Vietnamese is a tonal language, making proper pronunciation a challenge for many English speakers.

Regardless, locals will understand your attempts through context during Tet. You can wish people a happy new year in Vietnamese by telling them chúc mừng năm mới. Pronounced roughly as it is transliterated, the greeting sounds like: "chuop moong nahm moy."


In Vietnamese language, khổng lồ celebrate tết is khổng lồ ăn Tết, literally meaning "eat Tết", showing the importance of food in its celebration. Some of the food is also eaten year-round, while other dishes are only eaten during Tết. Also, some of the food is vegetarian since it is believed khổng lồ be good luck khổng lồ eat vegetarian on Tết. Some traditional foods on đầu năm are:

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Bánh chưng và bánh tét: essentially tightly packed sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaves. When these leaves are unavailable, banana leaves can be used as a substitute. One difference between them is their shape. Bánh bác is the square-shaped one to lớn represent the Earth, while bánh tét is cylindrical khổng lồ represent the moon. Also, bánh chưng is more popular in the northern parts of Vietnam, so as bánh tét is more popular in the south. Preparation can take days. After moulding them into their respective shapes (the square shape is achieved using a wooden frame), they are boiled for several hours to lớn cook. The story of their origins và their connection with tết is often recounted to lớn children while cooking them overnight.Hạt dưa: roasted watermelon seeds, also eaten during TếtDưa hành: pickled onion and pickled cabbageCủ kiệu: pickled small leeksMứt: These dried candied fruits are rarely eaten at any time besides Tết.Kẹo dừa: coconut candyKẹo mè xửng: peanut brittle with sesame seeds or peanutsCầu sung dừa Đủ xoài: In southern Vietnam, popular fruits used for offerings at the family altar in fruit arranging art are the custard-apple/sugar-apple/soursop (mãng cầu), coconut (dừa), goolar fig (sung), papaya (đu đủ), & mango (xoài), since they sound lượt thích "cầu sung toàn vẹn xài" ( pray for enough khổng lồ use) in the southern dialect of Vietnamese.

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Thịt Kho Nước Dừa: Meaning "meat stewed in coconut juice", it is a traditional dish of pork belly and medium boiled eggs stewed in a broth-like sauce made overnight of young coconut juice and nuoc mam. It is often eaten with pickled bean sprouts và chives, và white rice.Xôi Gấc: traditionally a red sticky rice that is typically prepared by steaming & sweetened lightly, typically paired with giò lụa (most common type of sausage in Vietnamese cuisine, made of pork & traditionally wrapped in banana leaves).

People enjoy traditional games during Tết, including: bầu cua cá cọp, cờ tướng, ném còn, chọi trâu, and đá gà. They also participate in some competitions presenting their knowledge, strength, & aestheticism, such as the bird competition và ngâm thơ competition.

Fireworks displays have also become a traditional part of a tết celebration in Vietnam. During the New Year's Eve, fireworks displays at major cities, such as Hà Nội, Ho chi Minh City, & Da Nang, are broadcast through multiple national & local TV channels, accompanied by New Year wishes of the incumbent president.

Gặp nhau cuối năm (Year-end Gathering) is a national favourite comedy show broadcast during the night before the New Year's Eve.

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The Tet Offensive (Vietnamese: Sự khiếu nại Tết Mậu Thân 1968), or officially called The General Offensive & Uprising of Tet Mau Than 1968 (Vietnamese: Tổng tiến công và nổi dậy Tết Mậu Thân 1968) was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong (VC) và North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) against the forces of the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the United States Armed Forces & their allies.

It was a chiến dịch of surprise attacks against military và civilian command & control centers throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the đầu năm mới holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when the first major attacks took place.

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Check the below table for the date of Vietnamese Tet until 2067

ZodiacGregorian date
Tý (Rat)25 January 202011 February 203230 January 204415 February 2056
Sửu (Buffalo)12 February 202131 January 203317 February 20454 February 2057
Dần (Tiger)1 February 202219 February 20346 February 204624 January 2058
Mèo (Cat)22 January 20238 February 203526 January 204712 February 2059
Thìn (Dragon)10 February 202428 January 203614 February 20482 February 2060
Tỵ (Snake)29 January 202515 February 20372 February 204921 January 2061
Ngọ (Horse)17 February 20264 February 203823 January 20509 February 2062
Mùi (Goat)6 February 202724 January 203911 February 205129 January 2063
Thân (Monkey)26 January 202812 February 20401 February 205217 February 2064
Dậu (Rooster)13 February 20291 February 204118 February 20535 February 2065
Tuất (Dog)2 February 203022 January 20428 February 205426 January 2066
Hợi (Pig)23 January 203110 February 204328 January 205514 February 2067

What does the Tet festival in Vietnam mean for tourists? It is a particularly good time lớn visit in Vietnam? Should I time my Vietnam visit to avoid Tet? Many travelers have such doubts in mind. Khổng lồ help you make the decision, here are some facts lớn know about Vietnam during Tet Holiday:

Transportation: flights, buses & trains about 1 week before or after Tet Holiday are often booked out well in advance as Vietnamese travel a lot this time (return home/go back for work). Be sure to book early. Note: Sonasia Holiday provides private vehicle for customers, so there is no need to lớn worry about short-distance transportation.Accommodation: most hotels remain open, so there is no need lớn worry about accommodation. However, some hotels may raise the price if you stay during Tet holiday.Sightseeing: some tourist sites remain open during Tet, but many museums, mausoleums, và indoor exhibition place và art houses will be closed at the first 3 days of Tet. The floating markets in the Mekong Delta will be closed.Restaurants: many restaurants will be closed during Tet. Therefore, Tet may not be the best time for culinary tour fans.Shops: many shops will be closed for the first few days of Tet Festival. The good news is - many products will be sold at a very reasonable price because most sellers want to lớn start a smooth sales year.Banks: banks will be closed for the holiday.

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Overall, Tet is not the best time to lớn travel to lớn Vietnam, but will all these factors spoil your Vietnam holiday during Tet? Not really. Here are some good parts of Tet for travelers:

The country is vibrant and colorful during this time, & you will have a chance lớn learn more about culture of Vietnam.Streets are quiet và light in traffic during Tet. Beaches will be less crowded - overall Tet is a great time for those who enjoy the tranquility.Streets are elaborately decorated, và everybody looks happy. Just enjoy the festive mood!Hotels và travel agents still work during Tet holiday. Some hotels will have special nights or New Year celebration.

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If you're planning khổng lồ visit Vietnam during Tet holiday, here are some tips.

Be sure to plan and book your Vietnam tour early so that tickets can be guaranteed. Booking two or four months ahead is not a bad idea.Book hotels early. There are three reasons: you can enjoy a relatively low price; avoid the risk of having no room to lớn stay; there are more choices if book early.Since some tourist sites are closed during Tet, it’s wise lớn plan your itinerary accordingly: visit the museums và such just before or after Tet, và relax or walk around Hanoi Old Quarter or go sunbathing in beaches during Tet.For travelers, dining at khách sạn restaurants is the option since most restaurants are closed.If you are in need of some currency changed, vì this in hotels though the exchange rate might be less than favorable.Try not khổng lồ bargain because it will be considered lớn bring about bad luck for the whole new year. If you have to lớn do, be very politely.

All in all, if you're planning to lớn visit Vietnam during or around Tet Holiday, be sure khổng lồ prepare your trip ahead of time!

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The Tet Holiday usually falls in mid-January or February. Dry, bright weather is expected across Vietnam. Temperatures in the north (Hanoi, Halong Bay) will be relatively cool (avg temp: 17 °C) but higher in central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Nha Trang, etc) và South Vietnam (Ho bỏ ra Minh City, Mekong Delta) (avg temp: 25-28 °C).

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During the same period, there are some other parts in Asia also celebrate the new year with quite the same meaning và traditions such as China, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, or Tibetan

Some countries celebrate the new year during March or April depending on the calendar that they follow such as Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, or Cambodia.

For further detail you can check our article about the New Year’s Traditions in Asia