The Vietnamese Tet holiday
I am writing this article when the Tet holiday in Vietnam is coming very soon. The Vietnamese Tet holiday is the most important occation for every single Viet people. Tet exists long long time and until now it still plays a very important role in the mind and soul of the whole country.
Tet- the Vietnamese New Year, is the most important festival and public holiday in Vietnam. Tet with itself meaning “festival”, is the shortened version of “Tet Nguyen Dan” (Feast of the First Morning of the First Day).
Tet begins from the first night of the new moon in the first month of the Lunar Calendar, or from the last week of January to the third week of February according to the Gregorian calendar.
Tet typically will be granted for 7 days. The specific days taken will depend on how theses dates fall over a weekend, and extra days may be spread holidays to bridge to weekends.Tet is often celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year due to the calculations of the Moon Calendar. Tet is the vacation marking the beginning of the new year and also marks the first day of the spring. On the 23rd of Moon calendar, the beginning of the festival, Ong Tao – the God of the Hearth goes to the abode of the Jade Emperor to give his annual report on family members. It is believed that Ong Tao makes a favorable report so prior to his departure, houses are thoroughly cleaned, well-decorated or even renovated.
The Vietnamese think that Tet is a chance to begin again, to forget about problems in the previous year and start afresh. In addition to cleaning homes, people often buy more new clothes at this time of year and it is also a popular time for people to set the tone for the coming year so popular customers include family reunions, giving money to children and the elderly, ancestor worship and wiping out debts.
At the new year ever, Ong Tao turns back and is welcomed with fireworks and gongs. During this time, people will avoid bad thoughts or arguments because they may allow bad spirit into the house.
Tet is also the time that everyone in Vietnam becomes one year older as age is traditionally determined by the new year and not by each person’s birthdays.
The most popular food of Tet is Banh Chung (Banh tet). This cake is made of sweet sticky rice, meat or beans, and spices wrapped in a leaf and is boiled for half a day. The legend is that this delicacy was invented over two thousand years ago by a prince in the Hung Dynasty and the king was so impressed by the simplicity and humbleness by this gift that he named the prince as his heir.
During Tet, the cities become less busy as people return to their hometowns to be with friends and family and many businesses are closed during Tet.
If you are visiting Vietnam at this time of year, be aware that most of the country will close down for Tet but for the travelling services, half of the travel companies open and Halong bay tours are doing well despite of lack of workers.