Vietnamese New Year Traditions

Vietnamese New Year Traditions Every Expat Must Know

Vietnamese new year traditions that every expat must know and respect in order to enjoy the celebration as a tourist in the country!


Vietnamese new year traditions that every expat must know and respect in order to enjoy the celebration as a tourist in the country!

Vietnamese new year traditions are considered sacred and secular, thus it is appropriate to be respected as a foreigner in the country.

Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar, a lunisolar calendar.

The name Tet Nguyen Dan is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the very First Morning.

The festival alone allows family members to meet and celebrate together thus, most locals travel home to be with their family for a dinner of traditional foods. This is followed by a visit to the local pagodas.

Everyone is in a rush to get a haircut, buy new clothes, spruce up their homes, visit friends, settle outstanding debts, and stock up on traditional Tet delicacies. Businesses hang festive red banners which read “Chuc Mung Nam Moi” (Happy New Year) and city streets are festooned with colored lights. Stalls spring up all over town to sell mut (candied and dried fruits), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. Certain markets sell nothing but cone-shaped kumquat bushes.

Others sell flowering peach trees, symbols of life and good fortune which people bring into their homes to celebrate the coming of spring.

Tet in the three Vietnamese regions can be divided into three periods, known as Tất Niên (Before New Year’s Eve), Giao Thừa (New Year’s Eve), and Tân Niên (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tet, the eve of Tet, and the days of and following Tet, respectively.

Tien Ong Tao – Farewell ceremony to the Kitchen Gods

According to the legend, since the time when humans discovered the use of fire, every household has a Land Genie and Kitchen gods to protect their people.

Seven days (the 23rd night of the last lunar month) prior to Tet, each Vietnamese family offers a farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods and their means of transport – carps to go up to Heaven Palace.

His task is to make an annual report to the Jade Emperor of the family’s affairs throughout the year. The farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods to heaven is a beautiful custom with spiritual meaning.

Giao Thua – Lunar New Year Eve

Giao Thua can be translated into “Passage from the Old to the New Year” and based on the Vietnamese belief, this is the time when heaven and earth meet.

Giao Thua is also the time for Ong Tao (Kitchen God) to return to earth after making the report to the Jade Emperor.

Every single family should offer an open-air ceremony to welcome him back to their kitchen. Along with that, there must always Mam Ngu Qua (five types of fruits) on the Vietnamese altar, depending on each family’s belief and preference, which can include bananas, grapefruit, mandarin, citrus, custard apple, coconut, papaya, mango, fig, etc.

Li Xi – Lucky money

A cultural practice that has been around for generations – Li Xi has been an indispensable part of Vietnam’s customs of Tet Holiday, especially with children.

On the very first days of Lunar New Year, when meeting the adult, children will wish them a happy new year and great health, showing respect and gratitude.

After that, it is the adults’ turn to give good advice and words of wisdom, encouraging the younger ones to keep up with the schoolwork, live harmoniously with others, and obey their parents and then giving them lucky money in a red envelope to welcome their new age.

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