7 Unique Traditions in Tet Holiday in Vietnam

1. Buying and Displaying Flowers in Tet Holiday.

When the spring comes, we welcome Tet holiday in the beginning of the lunar new year. Tet atmosphere really begins from the fifteenth of lunar December. People planting peach blossom (in the North) and apricot blossom (in the South) all know this day, when they have pluck leaves on the tree so that flowers will bloom right the first day of Tet.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

While Japanese people are proud of their bonsai, Vietnam people proud of planting and displaying flowers. Unfortunately, some precious flowers like daffodils, hydrangea, which were often considered the luxury Tet flowers by the upper class or people saw flowers blooming to foretell the luck, but now are hardly known in the days of the New Year. Time changes, the fun in the New Year also change; however, the tradition of offering flowers to Gods and ancestor in Vietnam does not disappear,  there are even more types of flowers such as orchids, chrysanthemums, tulips… developed domestically and imported from abroad.

2. Seeing off the Kitchen Gods 

Legend has it that, in every family, since human beings knew the way to use fire to cook food, there have been always Kitchen Gods in each family.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Taking the Kitchen Gods to the heaven is a beautiful tradition with spiritual significance. If a family does not follow this custom, there must be something dishonest and family members are afraid of being punished by the Heaven. This traditional custom is associated with releasing carp, which is considered the mean of transport for the Kitchen Gods. This is also the spiritual life of the inhabitants of the water sources.

3. Going to Tet Market, getting letters to worship at home

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

In the past, people went to Tet market mainly to buy dong leaves (used to wrap Chung cake), meat, onion to make Chung cake. Also, people did not forget to ask the teacher at the gate for some letters (Chinese characters or chirography) to worship at home since, in the old days, most of the people were illiterate, people had the tradition of worshipping letters with the hope that their descendants would be educated and successful. The most selected words/ letters were Tam (Sincere), Phuc (Happiness), Duc (Moral) … The etiquette of worshipping words today is being restored by calligraphy, which represents a studious nation in history and today.

4. Making Chung cake, Tet cake

Those who are skillful can make perfect Chung cakes, otherwise, the cakes’ corners will be broken when being boiled. It is also a cultural community feature when people ask each other for help. Boiling Chung cake is the most favorite step of many people, especially children. In the nights before the New Year, in the cold weather, sitting around the fire and cook Chung cake is really interesting.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Making Chung cake is a custom from glutinous rice civilization (not simply rice). The ancient traces of sticky rice is only found in Red River Delta and tied to the tale of Chung cake, Day cake in the 18th Hung King when chose one of his sons to succeed to the throne. Today, making Chung cake, Tet cake is still an extremely beautiful customary cuisine at Tet of our nation.

5. Cleaning houses

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

All objects, bowls, dishes, chopsticks are washed and displayed. Cleaning the house at Tet has important implications for preparing to “farewell the old year, welcome the New Year “. Along with cleanup work, the days near Tet is also time then people in debt repay borrowed money to the owners. It is customary to summarize the relationship to see the debt must be paid before the New Year, thanks to the gifts must be brought to meet you, also thanks to year the debt does not.

6. Welcoming the New Year Eve

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Eve is the time to witness the harmony of the heaven and the earth. When heaven and earth meet each other, they spread out sacred air which springs up in people witnessing special emotions. People always worship and welcome the Eve in the yard, the offerings can be a feast or fruits. Along with the New Year’s Eve offerings, on the altar in the house, there is always a tray of five fruits including banana, grapefruit, pomelo, orange…

7. Visiting each other and exchanging wishes

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

In the first day of the year, the children gather in the patriarch’s house to worship the ancestors, say happy new year to grandparents and the elders. According to the traditional concept, one year passes, everyone has one more age, so in the first day of the New Year, descendants often wish their grandparents and seniors longevity. In the past, the old often could not remember the specific date of birth, so they only knew that they were 1 year older at Tet).

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