Vietnamese Tet Festival – the longest holiday and the biggest festival in Vietnam is coming soon. There are lots of things to do from the lunar 15th day of December in the old year to the lunar 15th day of January in the new year. Shopping for Tet is a must whether you are rich or poor. Top things to buy at Vietnamese Tet Festival are as follows
Before the lunar New Year’s Eve, Vietnamese usually clean, arrange and decorate their houses as beautiful as possible. Must decor items include flowers, trees and plants. Golden/pink apricot branches in vases or whole trees are the most popular. Marigolds, kumquats, daisies, Dracaena fragrans, Rosa canina bring best wishes to hosts’ houses. Stickers with meaningful phrases such as Happy New Year (Chúc Mừng Năm Mới), May a Myriad Things Go According to Your Will (Vạn Sự Như Ý) or the images of the horoscope animal of the year.
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Fruits are for eating and decorating houses. Watermelon is the top fruit at this festival. Arranging shiny watermelon with lucky square stickers on the ancestor altar, on tables is a tradition of Vietnamese people. Sweet and juicy watermelon flesh can be eaten as a dessert or a vegetable, served with greasy Tet traditional foods. They sometimes offer the pieces of this fruit to ancestors.
Five-fruit tray is also a must at Tet festival. People in different region choose different combinations of more than 4 fruits to arrange on the tray which is arranged on ancestral altars. In South Vietnam, they arrange coconut, soursop (or apple custard), papaya, mango, fig fruit. In North Vietnam, they arrange pomelo, mandarin, banana, apple, peach, persimmon. In Central Vietnam, they usually choose dragon fruit, pineapple and others. In recent, you can choose any combination of fruits if you can not buy the traditional combination. The fruits should be nice-looking, small and/or young fruits are chosen so that the Five-fruit tray looks great.
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Sweets and cakes
Traditionally, Vietnamese people serve guests not only watermelon but also trays of sweets. The sweets are called “Mứt Tết”, which can be dried watermelon seeds, dried or sugar preserved fruits or vegetables and candies. Watermelon seeds is the most popular, but they aslo buy sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and imported nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts. Sugar-preserved tamarind, kumquat, candied ginger, coconut ribbons, lotus seeds, banana strips and ginger, banana candy are traditional “Mứt Tết”. You can buy a new tray of Mut Tet, then fill it with Mứt.
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Cakes are not usually arranged in the Tray of Mut Tet but served in separate boxes or plates. Nowadays, biscuits, rice cakes, waffles, chocolates are favorite cakes at Tet.
Teas, soft drinks, beers, wines
Vietnamese people like drinking tea while eating sweets. Preparing some tea in your house and serve your guests. You can buy a teapot set and some dried tea leaves or tea bags. Other guests prefer soft drinks such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, 7Up, Mirinda, etc. Some Vietnamese men usually drink beers or wines at Tet. All depends on you. You can offer them some alcoholic beverages and dried foods such as dried squids, chicken or fishes, Vietnamese pork rolls, boiled chicken.
In fact, Vietnamese people eat more at Tet. The list of amazing foods for Tet in Vietnam is too long. The most popular ones are as follows:
Square sticky rice cake (North Vietnam) or Cylindrical sticky rice cake is a must at Tet festival. The cake has a sticky crust from glutinous rice and fillings made from pork, mung bean, banana, beans, etc. They are usually offered to ancestors, eaten with pickles and other main dishes. It needs many steps, a few days and some people to make these cakes. They represent the family reunion in Vietnam.
This traditional Vietnamese sausage (Lạp xưởng) has a pink-red color, filled with pork fat and lean pork, mixed with secret spices. They fry the sausages in water until the water is dried up, grill or steam before eating.
Many foods at Tet are high-fat and greasy so that Pickles and salted foods balance the meals. Crispy Salted mustard greens, pickled scallion heads, small leeks, carrots and daikons are the most favorite ones.
Vietnamese pork roll and Pork head cheese are great cold cuts to eat at Tet. Chewy, crunchy and tender sausages are amazing prepared foods, you just cut them into pieces or slices, then serve them.
Braised pork and egg in caramel (South Vietnam, Central Vietnam) and Frozen pork (North Vietnam) are must foods at Tet. So that you should not forget buying ingredients for cooking these main dishes.
Whether you visit your friends, family members, partners or they visit your house, you should gift hosts meaningful gifts and give red envelops to kids. You put new banknotes into empty red envelopes that are sold popularly. Host and hostess gifts at Tet festival include combos (baskets) of candies, cakes, teas, coffee, wines; combos (basket) of fruits; cakes, teas, coffee, wines packed carefully.
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In the past, most of the Vietnamese people looked foward to new clothes when the lunar new year comes. Although they can go shopping for lots of beautiful clothes, they still keep the tradition of buying new clothes for their families at Tet. Ao Dai has become favorite. Vietnamese people usually wear Ao Dai, visit their families’ members, relatives, friends, partners, etc. When you come to Spring flower festivals, Tet flower markets, you can see a large number of people in colorful clothes take photos. Do not miss buying something new to wear at Tet festival. Ao Dai is my recommendation so that you look great the the biggest Vietnamese festival.
Where to buy – Top things to buy at Vietnamese Tet Festival
Local markets, supermarket, fruit stores, gift stores, decoration streets and Tet flower are great places to buy things for Tet.