Tet Vietnamese New Year stands as a pivotal cultural event in Vietnam, marked by rich customs, familial reunions, and time-honored rituals that captivate all who experience it. Read this article from Asia Legend Travel below to uncover the significance of Tet holiday, where the warmth of family gatherings, the delight of exchanging gifts, and the diverse array of traditional foods during Tet exemplify the essence of this cherished celebration.

What is Tet Holiday?

Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Tet is Vietnam’s main holiday, celebrated nationwide to welcome the traditional lunar new year. It typically falls between mid-January and late February, marking the beginning of the lunar calendar year. The festivities span for three days, or even up to a week, and are divided into the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, the New Year’s Eve itself, and subsequent New Year’s Days.

tet vietnamese new year Tet Holiday is Vietnam's traditional Lunar New Year celebration
Tet Holiday is Vietnam’s traditional Lunar New Year celebration

Tet Holiday is important for Vietnamese people

Tet is the biggest festival in Vietnam, emphasizing traditional values and customs.

  • Cultural heritage: Rooted in ancient times, Tet traces back to the era of the Hung Kings, symbolizing its enduring significance.
  • Spiritual significance: Beyond festivity, Tet embodies spiritual connections, uniting humanity with divine and fostering community cohesion.
  • Family traditions: Tet epitomizes family reunions, fostering gratitude and ancestral reverence, and nurturing familial harmony.
  • Wishes for prosperity: During Tet Vietnamese New Year, goodwill exchanges signify hopes for health, prosperity, and unity, embodying moral principles and cultural richness.

How do the Vietnamese get ready for Tet Holiday?

Preparations for Tet Vietnam begin well in advance, usually a month or 1-2 weeks before the festivities.

Cleaning and decorating the houses

Vietnamese households embark on a tradition of deep cleaning, symbolizing the removal of past year’s woes and ushering in good fortune for the upcoming year. Old items are discarded, houses meticulously cleaned, Tet holiday melodies resonate, and dwellings are adorned with vibrant Tet decorations, fostering a cheerful atmosphere. These decorations, including red couplets, “cay neu” bamboo poles, and Tet-associated flowers, imbue homes with a festive spirit, setting the stage for joyful celebrations.

tet vietnamese new year Cleaning and decorating houses precedes Tet Holiday, symbolizing renewal and welcoming good fortune
Cleaning and decorating houses precedes Tet Holiday, symbolizing renewal and welcoming good fortune

Shopping for new clothes and gifts

Shopping for new clothes and gifts is a cherished tradition among Vietnamese families. Parents take children to bustling Tet markets to select new attire, a delightful pre-holiday excursion. Additionally, families procure an array of items to embellish their homes, prepare sumptuous Tet feasts, and extend hospitality to guests. The shopping list typically includes fresh flowers, fruits, Tet preserves, and traditional delicacies like chicken, sausage, and bamboo shoots. Another customary practice is exchanging heartfelt gifts, fostering bonds of affection and conveying well wishes for the forthcoming year.

tet vietnamese new year Shopping for clothes and gifts is customary during Tet Vietnamese New Year
Shopping for clothes and gifts is customary during Tet Vietnamese New Year

Traditional rituals before Tet Vietnamese New Year

Passed down through generations, these Vietnamese Lunar New Year customs endure, each carrying profound significance. Among the timeless traditions to prepare for Tet are:

  • Honoring the Kitchen God on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month.
  • Crafting “banh chung” and “banh tet,” emblematic Tet cakes.
  • Arranging the symbolic “5 fruits” tray on family altars.
  • Paying respects to ancestors’ graves.
  • Conducting the “cung tat nien” ceremony, honoring ancestors and the earth.
  • Reveling in the joyous celebration of New Year’s Eve.
tet vietnamese new year Crafting banh chung is a traditional ritual before Tet
Crafting “banh chung” is a traditional ritual before Tet

Tet Vietnamese New Year Traditional foods

Celebrating the Tet holiday in Vietnam is synonymous with indulging in a rich tapestry of Vietnamese traditional foods.

Northern Vietnamese Tet Foods

In the northern region of Vietnam, Tet holiday cuisine revolves around ancestral traditions, with dishes carefully selected to honor heritage and symbolism.

  • Chung Cake: Symbolizing the earth, it’s a Tet staple.
  • Xoi Gac: Its red color represents luck and joy.
  • Vietnamese Pork Roll: Signifies harmony and abundance.
  • Dried Bamboo Shoot Soup: Reflects ancestral culinary practices.
tet vietnamese new year Northern Vietnamese Tet foods include Chung cake, Xoi gac, and Vietnamese pork roll
Northern Vietnamese Tet foods include Chung cake, Xoi gac, and Vietnamese pork roll

Central Vietnamese Tet Foods

Central Vietnamese Tet cuisine boasts bold flavors and rich culinary heritage, with dishes crafted to delight the senses and symbolize prosperity.

  • Banh Tet: Represents fullness and unity.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Sweet, sour, and crunchy accompaniments to banh tet.
  • Meat Marinated in Fish Sauce: A popular Tet dish in Central provinces.
  • Vietnamese Beef Roll: A common Tet delicacy with vibrant colors.

Southern Vietnamese Tet Foods

In Southern Vietnam, Tet celebrations are marked by an array of dishes brimming with flavor and cultural significance, embodying prosperity and familial togetherness.

  • Banh Tet: Essential for Tet in Southern Vietnam.
  • Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly: Symbolizes prosperity and family unity.
  • Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup: Represents overcoming hardships for happiness.
  • Chinese Sausage: A fragrant and versatile Tet dish in Southern Vietnam.
tet vietnamese new year Southern Vietnamese Tet foods encompass Banh tet, Vietnamese braised pork belly, and stuffed bitter melon soup
Southern Vietnamese Tet foods encompass Banh tet, Vietnamese braised pork belly, and stuffed bitter melon soup

Plants and flowers during Tet Vietnamese New Year

When talk about Tet holiday in Vietnam, households embrace the tradition of adorning their homes with vibrant flowers and plants.

Flowers for Tet Holiday

Various flowers hold symbolic meanings that add depth to the festive ambiance during Tet Vietnamese New Year:

  • Peach Blossoms: Symbolize growth, prosperity, and good luck in the North.
  • Yellow Apricot Blossoms: Represent luck, wealth, and happiness in the South.
  • Sword Lilies: Signify good luck, prosperity, and warding off negative energies.
  • Gerberas: Symbolize wealth and good fortune, often given as gifts for New Year’s wishes.
  • Chrysanthemum Flowers: Represent longevity, attracting luck and wealth to the family.
tet vietnamese new year Peach blossoms and yellow apricot blossoms symbolize luck and prosperity during Tet
Peach blossoms and yellow apricot blossoms symbolize luck and prosperity during Tet

To enhance your home’s atmosphere, consider adding spring buds, lisianthus flowers, dahlias, marigolds, and more.

Trees for Tet Holiday

To infuse your home with prosperity and auspiciousness during Tet Vietnamese New Year, consider these plants:

  • Kumquat Trees: Symbolize luck, peace, joy, and prosperity in the North.
  • Fig Tree: Represents abundance and prosperity, ideal for wishing for a prosperous year.
  • Money Plants: Signify richness, wealth, and prosperity, remaining vibrant all year.
  • Gold Coin Tree: Attracts wealth and fortune with its bright red color, believed to bring luck and prosperity.
tet vietnamese new year Kumquat and fig trees signify luck and abundance during Tet celebrations in Vietnam
Kumquat and fig trees signify luck and abundance during Tet celebrations in Vietnam

Vietnamese Traditions and Customs

Embedded within Vietnamese culture are rich traditions and customs, notably exemplified during Tet.

First visitor of the New Year

In Vietnamese Tet culture, the identity of the first visitor of the New Year holds significant importance. Known as “Xông Đất,” this honored guest is carefully chosen, typically a respected figure or someone believed to bring good luck. Their arrival on New Year’s Day symbolizes prosperity and sets the tone for the year ahead. Welcoming the first visitor is a cherished tradition, representing hospitality, good fortune, and communal harmony in Vietnamese culture.

tet vietnamese new year The first visitor of the New Year symbolizes luck and prosperity in Vietnamese tradition
The first visitor of the New Year symbolizes luck and prosperity in Vietnamese tradition

Ancestor worship and altar setup

In Vietnamese culture, honoring ancestors is a sacred tradition observed during important family gatherings, particularly during Tet. Ancestor worship involves meticulously cleaning the ancestral altar and arranging offerings of delicious dishes, Tet flowers, and a tray of five fruits to invite ancestral spirits to partake in the festivities and bestow blessings for a prosperous new year. This time-honored ritual reflects the profound respect for ancestors and underscores the cultural value of honoring one’s heritage for future generations.

Paying respects to parents and elders

During Tet Vietnamese New Year, Vietnamese families cherish the tradition of honoring elders, symbolizing respect and gratitude for their wisdom and guidance. Children express reverence for grandparents and parents by offering Tet wishes for longevity and good health. This custom underscores the deep-rooted value of respecting elders in Vietnamese culture, emphasizing familial bonds and traditions passed down through generations. Such gestures exemplify the enduring significance of familial respect and unity during the Tet holiday and beyond.

tet vietnamese new year Paying respects to parents and elders signifies gratitude and familial bonds during Tet
Paying respects to parents and elders signifies gratitude and familial bonds during Tet

Giving and receiving red envelopes (li xi)

In Vietnamese New Year, Vietnamese families partake in the tradition of “li xi,” gifting small envelopes adorned with money to celebrate the youth. On New Year’s Day, adults present these envelopes to children to mark their vitality and to the elderly to wish them longevity. This custom symbolizes care for the younger generation and extends hopes for prosperity in the new year. Such gestures reflect the deep-rooted cultural tradition of sharing blessings and goodwill during the festive season, fostering familial bonds and community spirit.

tet vietnamese new year Adults give red envelopes (li xi) to children as a symbol of good luck
Adults give red envelopes (li xi) to children as a symbol of good luck

Popular Celebration Activities during the Lunar New Year

Vietnam has many vibrant and engaging activities, offering visitors and locals alike a plethora of opportunities to partake in the festivities and immerse themselves in the rich cultural traditions of Tet.

Cultural festivals over the three regions

Vietnam’s Tet holiday features diverse cultural festivals nationwide, attracting crowds seeking blessings for the new year:

  • Dao People’s New Year Dance Festival: In Sapa, showcasing 14 traditional Dao dances.
  • Huong Pagoda Festival: In My Duc, Hanoi, offering scenic Buddhist sites.
  • Dong Ky Village Firecracker Parade: In Bac Ninh, featuring relic parades and firecrackers.
  • Tich Dien Doi Son Festival: In Ha Nam, honoring ancestral origins.
  • Dong Da Festival: In Hanoi, celebrating King Quang Trung’s victories.
tet vietnamese new year Cultural festivals across Vietnam's regions showcase unique traditions and attract diverse participants
Cultural festivals across Vietnam’s regions showcase unique traditions and attract diverse participants

These festivals enrich Tet celebrations, reflecting Vietnam’s cultural heritage.

Fireworks displays and public events

Every Tet holiday, Vietnam celebrates with spectacular fireworks displays, an age-old tradition rooted in legend. The vibrant bursts of color not only dispel evil spirits but also signify hope for a prosperous year. These displays, held during lunar and Gregorian New Year celebrations and other public holidays, are open to all, fostering a sense of community and unity as people come together to welcome the new year with wishes for happiness and well-being.

tet vietnamese new year Fireworks displays during Tet symbolize warding off evil spirits
Fireworks displays during Tet symbolize warding off evil spirits

Lion and dragon dances

In Vietnamese culture, lion and dragon dances are hallmark performances during the Tet Festival. Often showcased at temples and pagodas, these dances epitomize aspirations for luck, prosperity, and success. Adorned in vibrant red and gold, symbolizing strength and good fortune, the dancers captivate audiences with their graceful movements, embodying the festive spirit of the Lunar New Year celebration in Vietnam.

tet vietnamese new year Lion and dragon dances bring success and good fortune for new year
Lion and dragon dances bring success and good fortune for new year

Visiting pagodas and temples during Tet Vietnamese New Year

During the initial days of the Lunar New Year, it’s customary for Vietnamese families to visit pagodas and temples, seeking blessings for a prosperous year ahead. As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, crowds flock to nearby pagodas, fervently praying for health, happiness, and fulfillment of their wishes. This tradition symbolizes hope and spiritual renewal, with the belief that prayers made during this auspicious time will be granted in the forthcoming year.

tet vietnamese new year Visiting pagodas and temples during Tet is a customary practice for blessings and prosperity
Visiting pagodas and temples during Tet is a customary practice for blessings and prosperity

Tips for Experiencing Vietnam’s Lunar New Year

For a joyful Tet Vietnam 2024, it’s essential to plan your travel destinations and accommodations wisely to fully immerse yourself in the celebrations and make the most of your trip.

The best places to celebrate Tet Holiday in Vietnam

For an unforgettable Tet holiday experience in Vietnam, explore vibrant cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long. Indulge in traditional Tet dishes, marvel at festive decorations, and soak up the lively atmosphere. Don’t miss the chance to partake in unique Tet festivals, offering a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and celebrating the dawn of the Lunar New Year in style.

Prepare for crowds and transportation challenges during Tet Vietnamese New Year
Prepare for crowds and transportation challenges during Tet Vietnamese New Year

Accommodations and transportation during Tet Holiday

During Tet Vietnamese New Year, it’s crucial to plan ahead for accommodations and transportation due to increased demand. Book flights, trains, and buses well in advance to secure seats and avoid price hikes. Consider staying in reputable hotels or homestays with good reviews, and be mindful of potential travel delays due to the holiday rush.

Best Tet Holiday wishes in Vietnamese

To express your heartfelt Tet holiday wishes to your loved ones in Vietnam, consider using these traditional Vietnamese New Year greetings:

  • Sức khoẻ dồi dào: Wishing you good health.
  • An khang thịnh vượng: Wishing you prosperity.
  • Phát tài phát lộc: Wishing you wealth.
  • Cung hỉ phát tài: May you have a prosperous New Year.
  • Làm ăn phát tài: May your business prosper.
  • Vạn sự như ý: May all your wishes come true.
  • Hạnh phúc sức khỏe: Wishing you happiness and health.
  • Năm mới cát tường: Wishing you a lucky New Year.

Tet Vietnamese New Year embodies the essence of Vietnamese culture, celebrating family, tradition, and hope for the future. With its vibrant festivities, time-honored customs, and delectable cuisine, Tet holiday in Vietnam unites communities and spreads joy across the nation, highlighting the enduring spirit of unity and renewal that defines this cherished celebration.


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