Tet, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is a fabulous time khổng lồ experience the country in full celebration. Although much of the week itself is reserved for family gatherings, the run-up to Tet is wonderfully busy and colorful. Discover the biggest festival in Vietnam with our handy guide!
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The Lunar New Year is known in Vietnam as Tet, short for Tet Nguyen Dan. This translates lớn “the first morning of the first day of the new year”. In the build-up to Vietnam’s Lunar New Year, streets are lined with flowers, parties are thrown, and dragon dances are perfected. Everyone seems to be cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for the big day. The smell of incense is everywhere. There’s a festival atmosphere in the air weeks before the actual day of Tet, and even the quietest areas of the country spring khổng lồ life.

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If you’re planning khổng lồ travel during Tet, it’s worth noting that public transport is at its busiest during this season. Many family members who live in separate provinces will return lớn their hometowns during this period. So if you’re looking khổng lồ travel, be sure to lớn book well in advance – even airfares sell out quickly.

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When is the Lunar New Year in Vietnam?

The dates of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam differ year by year, depending on the lunar calendar. In 2021, it falls on February 12, & lasts around a week. Tet is by far the most important festival in Vietnam. For many workers, it is the only time of year when a holiday is taken. This can be anywhere from three days to a fortnight.

As a result, it’s worth being a little prepared if you’re staying in Vietnam during Tet. Stock up on food và source some international restaurants as many local markets and eateries will close for a few days.

How vì chưng the Vietnamese celebrate Tet?

The immediate weeks prior khổng lồ Tet involve a lot of cleaning and cooking. There is also quite a lot of partying! The sound of karaoke và the clinking of glasses can be heard almost anywhere in Vietnam for a week or two before.

In contrast, the very first day of Tet is a quiet family affair. Families all over the country will reunite and pay their respects to deceased elders. Many Vietnamese people take part in ancestor worship, believing the dead to still be around them in spirit form.

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Offerings are made lớn ancestors in the size of food, drink, and fake money. Gifts such as these are made throughout the year, but they are especially important during Tet. It’s believed they keep ancestors happy in the afterlife và ensure good luck for those still living.

After the first day of Tet, families may xuất hiện their houses khổng lồ friends and neighbors. Households will have a food selection on a prominent table for guests who come to lớn visit.

Local beliefs to lớn be aware of

Most importantly, don’t visit anyone’s home on the first day of Tet unless you’ve been specifically invited. There is a belief that the very first person khổng lồ enter a home during Tet can affect the fortunes of that household for the next 12 months.

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As a result, locally successful or well-respected people are often given the duty of being the “first caller”. Sometimes, the owner of the house will simply leave their house & re-enter it, just to be the first visitor và avoid any bad luck.

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If you are staying with a Vietnamese family và are helping out with the household chores, make sure you don’t vày any cleaning or sweeping over Tet. All cleaning should be done the week before, as people don’t want lớn “sweep away” any good luck during the season itself!

Remember to smile! Tet is a season in which good luck is welcomed, & having negative vibes around, even in the shape of a grumpy face, isn’t wanted by anyone. Be positive with your language và even wear bright colors if you have them.

Each Lunar New Year in Vietnam ushers in a new zodiac year too. 2021 will be the year of the buffalo. These animals are revered in Vietnam, given the role they play in rice farming. Those born in buffalo years are seen as being both patient and hardworking.

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Traditional Tet food

Like most festivals, food forms an important part of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Tet comes with its own special menu, và families will do a lot of cooking in the build-up to lớn Tet. If you’re lucky, you may get invited by your Vietnamese host khổng lồ try some of the following lip-smacking delicacies!

Sticky rice cakes

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Known locally as banh chung, you’ll see sticky rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves. They’re made of rice and mung beans, sometimes with pork added. The wrapping of sticky rice cakes is a popular sight in many places in Vietnam, và with so many to make, you’ll often see a whole family involved in the process.

Fruit candies

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Mut is sugared fruit and you’ll typically see pineapples, apricots, và coconuts transformed into sweet treats. Many families will make their own mut, & if the kids don’t eat it all first, you’ll likely be offered them if invited into a Vietnamese home over Tet.

Toasted watermelon seeds

These can be seen in Vietnam most of the year, often served in bars with beer or coffee. But they’re eaten with aplomb during Tet. Families will have an almighty bowl of these moreish nibbles. There’s a genuine art to lớn cracking the soft shell off with your teeth, whilst keeping the inner seed intact.

Rice wine

Tet is also a time for drinking, & in the weeks before Tet, it’s not uncommon khổng lồ find a lot of rice wine sipped in the name of celebration!

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Red envelopes and prosperity

If you’re in Vietnam during Tet, you may see packs of red envelopes for sale in local stores. There’s also a chance that you’ll see happy-looking children carrying one! In various parts of Southeast Asia, red envelopes containing money are given during special occasions.

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In Vietnam, these are given to lớn children during Tet. Whilst it’s okay to lớn give them to lớn anyone younger than you, they’re normally given within extended families. Older siblings may give them to lớn their nieces và nephews. Often, the children will pass the money on to lớn their parents. Other families allow their children lớn keep the money for themselves.

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