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Tet Holiday Customs and Traditions

Explore Vietnamese culture, and it cannot overlook the vibrant traditional festivals. Today, with Deluxe Group Tours, let’s delve into the traditional Tet holiday of Vietnam, an occasion you must visit Vietnam for if you want to fully experience the beauty and uniqueness of the culture here.

Tet Holiday

Tet Holiday, also known as Tet Ca, Tet Ta, Lunar New Year, Traditional Tet, or simply Tet, is the most significant holiday at the beginning of the lunar year in Vietnam.

Tet is considered to begin on the first day based on the lunar calendar year, typically falling later than the Gregorian New Year by 1 to 2 months due to the three-year leap month rule in the lunar calendar. Therefore, the starting time of Tet Nguyen Dan usually falls between January 21st and February 10th.

Tet Holiday Customs and Traditions

Tet Nguyen Dan originates in East Asian culture, a part of the rice civilization. People in East Asia divided the year into 24 different solar terms, each associated with a “New Year’s Eve.” Among these terms, the most significant is Tet Nguyen Dan, marking the beginning of the agricultural cycle and the start of new cultivation and planting.

Tet holiday in Vietnamese culture not only marks the transition between lunar years but also embodies numerous valuable spiritual and cultural aspects. It is a time when people express gratitude to deities for a bountiful harvest and seek blessings for prosperity in the upcoming year. Additionally, Tet is a moment for family bonding, with everyone gathering, reminiscing about ancestors, and expressing gratitude. This creates a happy atmosphere, making Tet Nguyen Dan a memorable and meaningful occasion for every household.

Meaning of Tet Holiday

Tet is a major and important festival for the Vietnamese people, considered the happiest, liveliest, and warmest time of the year. It is a crucial occasion, symbolizing new beginnings and filled with hope, luck, and sincere wishes and prayers. Therefore, Tet Nguyen Dan holds many profound and meaningful meanings.

Tet holiday is the intersection of heaven and earth

Tet Holiday 2024

The Lunar New Year is considered a time that symbolizes the convergence of heaven and earth, the spiritual realm with humans. The word “Tết” in “Tết Nguyên Đán” (Lunar New Year) represents the weather, which operates in the cycle of the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. This cycle marks the end of a period and holds special significance for the ancient economy, which heavily relied on agriculture.

Tet holiday is an occasion to express reverence and gratitude to the ancestors

Tet Holiday 2024
Tet Holiday 2024

It can be said that this is the most noteworthy occasion of the year when family members come together to prepare and offer on the ancestral altar the most elaborate feasts, including offerings of five types of fruits.

According to the traditional belief, during Tet holidays, the ancestral spirits will return home to celebrate Tet with their descendants, bringing blessings for the family’s health and harmony.

Tet holiday is a day of luck and hope:

foreigners experience tet holiday in viet nam 2024
foreigners experience tet holiday in viet nam 2024. Source :internet

The New Year symbolizes a new beginning, so during each Tet celebration, people often gather to visit temples to pray for blessings and good fortune in the upcoming year.

Throughout history, the lunar new year has captivated hearts, uniting people of all ages in the belief that a fresh start brings unparalleled fortune. Symbolizing the departure of past misfortunes, the Tet holiday has laid the foundation for endless possibilities and a new year of hope.

Tet holiday is the time for families to gather and bond together

Tet Holiday Customs and Traditions
Tet holiday is the time for families to gather and bond together

Tet Nguyen Dan is the most anticipated time for everyone to reunite with their loved ones because not every family can be close to one another. On New Year’s Eve, many people look forward to gathering around the pot of Chung cakes.

Moreover, this is also a time for the younger generation to express gratitude to their grandparents and parents, who gave them life and nurtured them with sincere affection, often through simple gestures like giving gifts during the Tet holiday.

Celebrating Tet Holiday

Sending The Kitchen Gods To Heaven

Before the Lunar New Year, on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month each year, every household cleans their kitchen thoroughly. Afterward, they prepare an offering table with fruits and savory items and release a carp, which prepares the Kitchen Gods for heaven. And they will report to the Jade Emperor about the events in the family over the past year. According to folk beliefs, this day is when the Jade Emperor will either reprimand or reward the family based on the report provided by Kitchen Gods.

Wrapping Chung cakes and Tet cakes

In the Vietnamese mindset, Chung cake is considered the essence of the Tet holiday. Therefore, wrapping Chung cakes, Tet cakes, and Giay cakes has become an indispensable part of traditional Vietnamese Tet. Chung cake is square and green, while Giay cake is round and white. These cakes are considered luxurious and highly meaningful foods, offered to ancestors as a demonstration of gratitude and remembrance for the immense contributions of parents in giving life and nurturing their descendants.

In many places today, people still maintain the tradition of gathering with their extended families and neighbors before Tet. They come together to wrap, boil, and have conversations throughout the night. It is truly meaningful that the traditional practice of making Chung cakes and Tet cakes before Tet is still preserved and passed down to the younger generations up to the present day.

Arranging the Five-Fruit Tray

Arranging the Five-Fruit Tray is an indispensable cultural beauty on Tet day for Vietnamese families. The Five-Fruit Tray symbolizes the elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, the five components that make up the universe according to Confucianism. It carries profound and deeply rooted meanings associated with filial piety and the desire for good things to come in the new year. Each region may have different ways of presenting the Five-Fruit Tray, using various flowers and fruits, but the typical significance is to wish for a new year filled with peace, luck, happiness, security, and prosperity.

Cleaning and Decorating the House

For the people of Vietnam, cleaning and tidying up the house at the end of each year carries the significance of removing the negative aspects of the old year and preparing to welcome good luck and prosperity for the new year. Therefore, family members have to come together and clean, renewing the items in their homes.

Additionally, to decorate their homes for Tet, Vietnamese people also buy various types of Tet flowers with different colors and meanings, such as yellow apricot blossoms, peach blossoms, chrysanthemums, etc. Some households still observe the tradition of hanging parallel sentences, a distinctive feature of Tet.

Offering New Year’s Eve Worship

New Year’s Eve is considered the most awaited moment of the Lunar New Year, whereby an old calendar ends and a new one begins. It is also a moment when heaven and earth converge, bringing nature and humans closer together.

Offering New Year’s Eve ritual often involves two ceremonies: one conducted indoors and another outdoors. Vietnamese people perform New Year’s Eve worship with the belief that to begin a new year, there must be an end, meaning to leave behind any grievances from the old year and welcome the new year with prosperity. In addition, on New Year’s Eve, numerous spectacular events are held throughout the city, including music and dance demonstrations, fireworks exhibitions, etc.

First Footing

After celebrating New Year’s Eve to welcome the new year, the first person to enter the house is considered the one who performs the ‘first footing’ ritual for the family. According to ancient beliefs, the person who carries the first footing ritual should be someone of compatible age as the homeowner for a favorable business year, good health, and family harmony.

Happy New Year and Happy Age

The arrival of the new year symbolizes that each person will age one year older. Therefore, people exchange their best wishes with each other, hoping for a more successful year ahead. Traditionally, younger generations express their gratitude by paying their parents and grandparents a visit on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Afterward, adults give red envelopes containing money to the children (lucky money), wishing them luck and academic success in the new year.

Festivals Celebrated Around Tet Holiday

Huong Pagoda Festival-Hanoi:

The theme “Tourism Festival: Huong Pagoda, the Traditional Beauty of Vietnamese Culture” will officially kick off on the 6th day of the first lunar month and last until the end of the third lunar month. Located in Huong Son commune, My Duc district, Hanoi, the Perfume Pagoda Festival is one of the longest-running festivals in the country. When attending the festival, you not only participate in a spiritual journey to the Buddhist realm but also immerse yourself in the vast landscapes with hours of boat rides for sightseeing.

The Firecracker Procession Festival of Dong Ky Village:

The festival takes place from the 4th to the 6th day of the lunar new year in Dong Ky Village (Dong Quang commune, Tu Son, Bac Ninh). It commemorates the legendary Thanh Thien Cuong, a revered general in local folklore who led the villagers to fight against invaders.

Visiting the Dong Ky Village Festival, you admire ancient communal houses and temples, immersing yourself in unique spiritual and folk cultural activities. Moreover, various religious and cultural rituals are showcased prominently during the festival day.

Fisherman’s Festival (12th day of the lunar January)

The festival is also the occasion when fishermen in Thua Thien Hue are busy preparing for the Fisherman’s Festival, a significant ritual of praying for calm seas, abundant catches, and prosperous lives for the fishermen.

Held once every three years, the Cau Ngu Festival is also a way for the people of Thai Duong Ha Village in Hai Duong commune, Huong Tra town, to express their gratitude to the village’s founding king, Truong Quy Cong (also known as Truong Thieu), a native of Thanh Hoa who contributed to teaching the poor how to fish and trade in boats and fishing nets. Not only will you witness spiritual ceremonies, but you will also immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere with onshore performances and traditional boat races.

 Explore Hue City: Hue Travel Guides

The Lantern Festival in the Chinese community

The Lantern Festival in the Chinese community takes place on the 15th day of the lunar January every year. This is a significant celebration not only for the Chinese in Saigon but also a cultural and tourism symbol for the entire city of Ho Chi Minh.

The festival is vibrant and captivating, featuring a series of artistic parades from over 20 Chinese Associations and Clubs following the route: Hai Thuong Lan Ong – Chau Van Liem – Lao Tu – Luong Nhu Hoc – Nguyen Trai – Tran Xuan Hoa – District 5 Cultural Center.

During this festival, you will immerse yourself in a lively and enthusiastic atmosphere, celebrating and wishing each other a safe and prosperous new year. Moreover, this is a great opportunity to experience Chinese culture on Vietnamese land with performances such as lion dances, music and dance shows, calligraphy booths, traditional games, and food stalls in the festival area.

Traveling to Vietnam during the Tet holiday has provided me with a truly memorable experience. At many folk festivals, I was able to gain significant experiences in addition to fully immersing myself in the unique ambiance of Vietnamese culture. I witnessed traditional ceremonies, participated in entertaining activities, and immersed myself in the richness of unique cultural aspects in each region. From vibrant flower markets to artistic performances at temple festivals, I deeply felt the diversity and vibrancy of this land.

Kris Goetghebeur

Author: Kris Goetghebeur

With over 20 years of work experience, ranging from seasonal to full-time assignments in different sectors of the Travel, Recreation, Hostelry, and Service Industry, I have a strong background. I have been based in Saigon, Vietnam, since 1999. My educational qualifications include a degree in Management in Tourism and Recreation Studies as well as a degree in Accountancy. I am proficient in French, Dutch, English, and German. I have extensive experience in crafting tailor-made tours and incentive packages, boasting a nearly 100% satisfaction record from my customers.