Tết Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year), more commonly known by its shortened name Tết, is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam.
Time: The 30th day of the twelfth lunar month of the previous year to the 2rd day of the first lunar month of the new year.
Tết is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January and early February) until at least the third day. It is the first and foremost part of Vietnam’s traditional festival systems which holds the plentiful and profound contents in terms of ritual and festival. There are lots of customs practiced during Tet, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.
Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year.
Vietnamese people usually return to families during Tet. All the office, factory, school, and construction are subjected to be off for some day and be flexible in arranging their work during the holiday.
Tết Nguyên Đán, The most typical feature of Tet is the preparation in each family. Every family redecorate their house with new painting, buying new outfits, welcoming their relatives to come back home. People mainly buy pictures, parallel sentences, flowers and trees. The main flower of North Vietnam is peach blossom; the South is yellow apricot blossom. Besides, they also use kumquat to decorate the living room.
The Tết atmosphere clearly begins from the 23th of the last lunar month. That is the time for the God of Kitchen to return to Heaven to report what happened in the whole year to the Jade Emperor. In the feudal period, the duration of Tet is often from the 23 December (one week before Tết’s Eve) until the 7th of January (one week after Tết’s Eve). Every work of the court is paused in this time. Nowadays, the holiday time is organized more properly and suitable for the modern life, which helps in terms of economics and politeness in order to be more corresponding to the industrial time.
Tết holiday is for people to have rest, enjoy their time, visit relatives, and join festivals, therefore, everybody needs to well dress. The first day of Tết is reserved for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called mừng tuổi (happy new age) in the north and lì xi in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional Tết greetings before receiving the money. The traditional greetings are “chúc mừng năm mới” (Happy New Year) and “cung chúc tân xuân” (gracious wishes of the new spring). People also wish each other prosperity and luck.