5 Must Things at Tet Festival
Tet – the shorten form of Tet Nguyen Dan is the biggest and most important festival in Vietnam. Tet is considered as the most beautiful part of Vietnamese culture with lots of traditional customs and interesting activities around Tet days (officially Tet lasts 3 first days of the lunar new year). At Tet festival, flowers, five-fruit tray, red envelope, square glutinous rice cake and parallel sentences couldn’t be missed. Followings are 5 Must Things at Tet Festival in Vietnam.
1. Flowers for Tet
At Tet festival, universities, companies, hotels, restaurants, cafes and especially houses are full of flowers and plants grown for Tet. Some months before the lunar new year, flower farmers have prepared flowers, plants, bonsai and old trees which are used to decorate houses at Tet. A week before the Lunar New Year’s Eve, colorful flower markets are open around the country. They are always crowded and busy with people coming to choose and buy stuff to make their properties splendid and impressive. Apricot blossom in South Vietnam and peach blossom in North Vietnam are king flowers for Vietnamese New Year because they symbolize luckiness. Marigold – the symbol of longevity is also one of the most favorite Tet flower. Other popular flowers and trees are kumquat tree, orchids, daisy, gerbera…
Read more about Tet Flower Markets in Saigon.
2. Five-fruit Tray
Five kinds of fruits arranged on a tray in artistic way – five-fruit tray is one of must things at traditional Tet in Vietnam. Put on display on the altar, five-fruit tray is an offering to the family’s ancestors and show gratitute and respect for gods, the earth and the heaven. The selection of fruits to display depends on preferences, fruit availability and regional characteristics. Each fruit usually has different color from others and symbolizes a wish for new year. Some families could arrange more than five kinds of fruits on the tray at their wishes. In South Vietnam, people usually choose soursop, fig, coconut, papaya and mango which means “having enough money to spend” during the new year. In Northern part of Vietnam, people pick banana, pomelo, peach, tangerine and sapota to make a traditional five-fruit tray.
3. Red Envelope
On first days of the lunar new year, people come to visits grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers and friends and give the hosts meaningful gifts. Children say the best wishes to adults and are given lucky money which is put in red envelope. Although the amount of money in red envelope is small, it can bring good fortune to the new year and especially wish children grow fast. The envelope represents the secrecy and privacy to avoid comparison and red color of the envelope represents all good things. Red envelope has become an indispensable part in Vietnamese customs at Tet festival and one of the most beautiful memories of any Vietnamese children.
4. Square Glutinous Rice Cake
According to a Vietnamese legend, Square glutinous rice cake (Banh chung) symbolizes the Earth and piety. Ingredients to make this cake (glutinous rice, pork belly, mung bean) are easy to find in the countryside of Vietnam. Wrapped carefully and skilfully in green “dong” leaves into square shaped cake, Square glutinous rice cake is not only delicious but also good-looking. The cake is usually displayed on the altar as an offering to the ancestors. Before Tet, all members of family gather to make Banh chung together. The time when all of them sit around the stove to wait for the ready Banh Chung is one of the happiest time in Vietnamese people’s life. Square glutinous rice cake is a must food on Tet feast and one of the most favorite foods of any family member at Tet.
Read more about Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake and the legend.
5. Parallel Sentences
Writing parallel sentences with Chinese black ink on red paper and hanging them in the living room is one of the finest customs at Tet festival in Vietnam. Parallel sentences only is used to decorate the house but also show the family’s wish of a better year. The meaning of the sentences is about prosperity, happiness, luckiness and longevity. Two sentences must contain the same number of words and they must followed many complex set of rules.