ACTIVITIES DURING VIETNAMESE NEW YEAR
Tet – the shortened form of Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet Festival or Vietnamese New Year) is the biggest most important annual celebration in Vietnam. Although Vietnamese New Year gets the beginning marked with the first day in the lunar year, its preparation starts about one month before that. The first three days on the lunar calendar are considered as Tet days, but Vietnamese people still have many activities until the end of January on the lunar calendar. The followings are traditional activities during the Vietnamese New Year.
Usually, about the lunar twenty-seventh, all cadres, officers and workers have days off. People start cleaning and decorating their house with flowers, plants, red envelopes, a tray of five fruits… Mothers will buy new clothes for everybody in families, new furniture and food for Tet. The people who are far from home hurriedly come back to their hometown to enjoy Tet with families.
Members of the Vietnamese family decorate their houses together with colorful flowers
On the thirtieth January on the lunar calendar, people welcome Ong Tao home. On this day, they also welcome the ancestor home to enjoy Tet with the descendant. The ceremony welcoming the ancestor is very solemn, must offering is a five-fruit tray. According to Eastern philosophy, the five kinds of fruit symbolize five basic elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth which are used to make the Universe. The five kinds of fruit also show the dream of people about a better year. Besides the five-fruit tray, there are square glutinous rice cakes and round sticky rice cakes, watermelons, rice, meat, fish…When the offering is ready, the descendant stands in front of the altar and pray. After that, members of the family eat and drink, talk to each other happily.
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On New Year’s Eve, most of the families stay up late over 00:00 to welcome a new year. Early in the evening, everybody prepares a feast of traditional foods for Tet to worship their ancestors and eat the feast after that. They prepare the offering for the watch-night time ceremony. The offering consists of bakes, jams and fruits. Exactly at midnight, they burn incense to pray to God and Buddha for a good new year.
Offering on Vietnamese New Year’s Eve consist of fruits, glutinous cake, Vietnamese pork roll, pickled, boiled chicken, soup with bamboo shoot, fried spring roll, salad, steamed sticky rice with Gac, flowers, wine…
Vietnamese people have the expression relating to Tet days: “mung mot nha cha, mung hai nha chu, mung ba nha thay”. This expression means on the first day of Tet, Vietnamese people visit parents, on the second day they visit uncles and on the third, they visit teachers. A family in Vietnam usually has three generations: grandparents, parents, and children. On the first day of Tet, family members have to stay at home in order to donate ancestor. Two-generation families will come to visit parents and grandparents on this day. Children will wish their parents and grandparents longevity and good health. Parents and grandparents also wish their children the best in life and gift them red envelopes with lucky money inside. On the second of Tet, people go to visit relatives. They are very happy to meet each other. They talk about the business in the last year and give each other best wishes. On the third day of Tet, people come to visit their teachers. In Vietnam, people respect teachers the most because they are highly influenced by Confucianism.
Visiting parents and grandparents on the first day of Tet, Vietnamese people usually bring fruits or candies to gift their parents, children have a wish their grandparents’ health and longevity and receive good luck money from them
On the days before Tet and three first days of Tet, in centers of cities, provinces and districts, there are lots of spring flower festivals. People usually come to these places to go for a walk, admire sights and take photographs.
Flower show on Nguyen Hue Street (District 1, HCMC) attracts thousands of people coming to walk and take photographs
On the fourth of January on the lunar calendar, every family celebrates a ceremony saying good-bye to their ancestor. This ceremony is as solemn as the welcome one. Children and grandchildren are present enough. Every year, about on the twenty-sixth, all cadres, officers and workers have to go to work again.
Although Tet is over, the atmosphere of Tet still remains. People still go to visit relatives, friends and partners in January on the lunar calendar. The time after Tet Nguyen Dan is also the time when many traditional festivals happen, attracting the attention and participation of numerous tourists. Huong Pagoda Festival occurs from the sixth of the first month to the third month on the lunar calendar. Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh province begins from the tenth of the first month on the lunar calendar. Lim Festival starts from the thirteenth of the first month. Tran Temple Festival occurs from the thirteen to the fifteenth of the first month.
Unique boat race at Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh province
The above are some activities during Tet Nguyen Dan. They show the reunited family happiness, best wishes in the new year, respect to ancestors, teachers, grandparents and parents.