The Vietnamese New Year Holidays
The Vietnamese consider Têt to be the year's most important festival. The Festival occurs sometime between late January or early February, depending on Lunar Calendar. Officially, the national holiday of Têt lasts for three days. However, in practice it is almost a week to ten days. To Vietnamese, Têt is likes the combination of Thanksgiving, New Year's, and everybody's birthday, for everyone is one year older on Têt .
On New Year’s Eve, Buddhists go to temples and Christians go to churches to give thanks to God, according to their beliefs, and pray for a happy new year. Many Catholics go to mass on the first three days of the New Year.
During Têt, the most important thing to do is visiting. In the past, people did not have telephones or internet, or even mail, the only way to check on somebody was by visiting them. That's why Vietnamese, from wherever they live or work, try to return to their hometown to visit their parents and their relatives on Têt. On the first day of Têt, people visit their parents, grandparents, close relatives, or most respected famiy members. The next days, they visit their distant relatives, teachers (Vietnamese highly respect teachers), and friends.
During the visiting, they exchange greetings such as :
- Sông lâu tram tuôi (Long life of 100 years): used by children for elders;
- An khang thinh vuong (Security, good health, and prosperity)
- Van su nhu ý (May all things go according to your will)
- Suc khóe dôi dào (Plenty of health)
After the initial greeting, the children will receive wishes from adults so that they will be taller, smarter, and wiser in the new year, then they will receive red envelopes with money inside. This is called “mùng tuói” that means “happy new age”.
The hosts serve their guests sweet treats like mùt (preserved fruits), hat dua (toasted melon seeds), cakes, and fresh fruits such as watermelon, tangerines, or oranges.
Besides visiting, Vietnamese might also celebrate Têt by going to festivals like Hôi Hoa Xuân (Spring flower festival) or they might go to parks to see the colorful and beautiful flowers blooming, or take part in Lê Hôi Chùa Huong (Huong Pagoda festival, in the North).
Traditionally, weeks before Têt, people clean up and decorate their homes with a belief, that by doing so, they would be getting rid of bad fortune and bad memories, which were associated with the previous year. People also try to pay off their debts in advance so that they can be debt-free on Têt.
They make banh chung (chung cake) and banh tet (tet cake). They serve mùt (preserved fruits), like mut bi (preserved winter melon), mut sen (preserved lotus seeds), and mut gung (preserved ginger) to their visitors. They also have thit kho tàu (boiled eggs and pork stew), cha lua (pork bologna) and other preserved foods to eat during Têt to allow more time for visiting and going outside.
Every house is usually decorated with hoa mai – Ochna integerrima [tree or chrub with yellow flowers] , hoa dào (peach blossom), or kumquat tree [citrus tree with small fruits], as well as other kinds of flowers like hoa cúc (chrysanthemum), van tho (marigold) –symbolizing longevity. Watermelon and banh chung and banh tet are used to decorate the houses.
Têt is an occasion for family members and friends to gather and eat, talk, laugh, and relax.
Celebrating Têt is called “an têt”, meaning “eat Tet.”
Many apologies, but our website is, at the moment, incapable of supporting many of the characters in the Vietnamese language.
Information obtained from the following sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/, http://www.traveldudes.org/travel-tips/tet-vietnamese-new-year-great-time-visit-vietnam/15045, http://www.adoptvietnam.org/vietnamese/tet-links.html