Home TET Traditonal Festival

TET Traditional Festival



Almost 100 millions Vietnamese living in and outside Vietnam celebrating traditional TET festival from Feb 3rd - Feb 7th 2011.
3 Days during TET festival, VTT Office closes but Drivers, Tour Guides and Tour Operators still working, please contact us to the Hotline +84.982 661133 and +84.913 169444 or contact the cellphone number of your personal travel consultant.
All the Emails, requests will be responded when our office opens on Feb 7th 2011. Thank you for your attention and let's say "Chuc Mung Nam Moi!"

TET Nguyen Dan, more commonly known by its shortened name 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.


TET is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (This year it is coming on Feb 3rd 2011) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for TET by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during TET, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the New Year (xong nha), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.
TET is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During TET, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider TET to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called HOI XUAN (spring festival).

Vietnamese people usually return to their families during Tet. Some return to worship at the family altar or visit the graves of their ancestors in their homeland. Although TET is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region and religion has its own customs.
TET in the three Vietnamese regions can be divided into three periods, known as Tat Nien (Before New Year's Eve), GIAO THUA (New Year's Eve), and TAN NIEN (the New Year), representing the preparation before TET, the eve of TET, and the days of and following TET, respectively. All of these customs are to celebrate TET in Vietnam.


Before New Year:
This period begins one or two weeks before the actual celebration. The general atmosphere leading up to TET is in the bustle of shopping, decorating the home, cooking traditional TET food and waiting for relatives to return home. People try to pay off their debts in advance so that they can be debt-free on TET. Parents buy new clothes for their children so that the children can wear them when TET arrives. Because a lot of commercial activity will cease during the celebrations, people try to stock up on supplies as much as possible.
In the days leading up to TET, the streets and markets are full of people. As the shops will be closed during TET, everyone is busy buying food, clothes, and decorations for their house.
Vietnamese families usually have a family altar, to pay respect to their ancestors. Vietnamese families have a tray of five different fruits on their altar called "NGU QUA" (five fruits type). During TET the altar is thoroughly cleaned and new offerings are placed there. Traditionally, the three kitchen guardians for each house (ONG TAO) (Kitchen God), who report to the Jade Emperor about the events in that house over the past year, return to heaven on the 23rd day of the twelfth month by lunar calendar. Their departure is marked by a modest ceremony where the family offers sacrifices for them to use on their journey.
In the days leading up to TET, each family cooks special holiday foods such as BANH CHUNG and BANH DAY. Preparations for these foods are quite extensive. Family members often take turns to keep watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about TET of past years.

During The New Year
The first day of TET is reserved for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called MUNG TUOI (happy new age) in the north and “LI XI” in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional TET greetings before receiving the money. Since the Vietnamese believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, people never enter any house on the first day without being invited first. The act of being the first person to enter a house on TET is called XONG DAT, XONG NHA, which is one of the most important rituals during TET. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to the family on the first day of the lunar New Year, the entire following year will also be full of blessings. Usually, a person of good temper, morality and success will be the lucky sign for the host family and be invited first into the house. However, just to be safe, the owner of the house will leave the house a few minutes before midnight and come back just as the clock strikes midnight to prevent anyone else entering the house first who might potentially bring any unfortunate events in the new year to the household.
During subsequent days, people visit relatives and friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second day of TET is usually reserved for friends, while the third day is for teachers, who command respect in Vietnam. Local Buddhist temples are popular spots as people like to give donations and to get their fortunes told during TET. Children are free to spend their new money on toys or on gambling games such as BAU CUA CA COP, which can be found in the streets. Prosperous families can pay for dragon dancers to perform at their house. There are also public performances for everyone to watch

Traditionally, each family displays CAY NEU, an artificial New Year Tree consisting of a bamboo pole 5 to 6 m long. The top end is usually decorated with many objects, depending on the locality, including good luck charms, origami fish, cactus branches, etc.
At TET every house is usually decorated by HOA MAI – Ochna integerrima (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam) or HAO DAO – peach flower (in the northern part of Vietnam) or HOA BAN (in mountain areas). In the north, some people (especially the elite in the past) also decorate their house with a Prunus mume tree (also called mai in Vietnamese, but referring to a totally different species from Ochna integerrima). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during TET. Its many fruits symbolize the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year.

The traditional greetings are "CHUC MUNG NAM MOI (Happy New Year). People also wish each other prosperity and luck. Common wishes for TET include:

* SONG LAU TRAM TUOI (Live up to 100 years): used by children for elders. Traditionally, everyone is one year older on TET, so children would wish their grandparents health and longevity in exchange for MUNG TUOI or LIXI.
* AN KHANG THINH VUONG (Security, good health, and prosperity)
* VAN SU NHU Y(May a myriad things go according to your will)
* SUC KHOE DOI DAO (Plenty of health)
* TIEN VAO NHU NUOC (May money flow in like water): used informally

In Vietnamese language, to celebrate TET is to "ăn TET", literally meaning "TET eating", showing the importance of food in its celebration. Some of the food is also eaten year-round, while other dishes are only eaten during TET. Also, some of the food is vegetarian since it is believed to be good luck to eat vegetarian on TET. Some traditional food on TET are:
Essentially tightly packed sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in Dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaves. When this leaves is unavailable, banana leaves can be used as a subtitute. BANH CHUNG (rectangular) and BANG DAY (circular) are symbolically connected with TET and are essential in any TET celebration. Preparation is time-consuming, and can take days to cook. The story of their origins and their connection with TET is often recounted to children while cooking them overnight.

* HAT DUA: roasted watermelon seeds, also eaten during TET.
* DUA HANH": pickled onion and pickled cabbage.
* CU KIEU: pickled small leeks.
* MUT: These dried candied fruits are rarely eaten at any time besides TET.
* THI KHO NUOC DUA Meaning "Meat Stewed in Coconut Juice", it is a traditional dish of fatty pork stomach and medium boiled eggs stewed in a broth-like sauce made overnight of young coconut juice and nuoc mam. It is often eaten with pickled bean sprouts and chives, and white rice.


* One should give people lucky presents to enhance the relationship between themselves and others: new clothes, peach branches (for expelling evil), cocks/chickens (wishing for good manners), new rice (wishing for being well-fed), rice wine in a gourd (wishing for a rich and comfortable life), BANH CHUNG (or BANH TET) and BANH DAY which symbolize sky and earth (for worshipping the ancestors), red things (red symbolizes happiness, luckiness, advantages) like watermelon, dogs (the bark – go go – sounds like the word GIAU - richness in Vietnamese language), medicated oil (DAU in Vietnamese, also sounds similar to GIAU).
* One should give lucky Dong Ho Paintings such as: "DAN GA" (wishing for having many children), or "VINH HOA", but should not give unlucky Dong Ho paintings like "DANH GHEN" related to legal proceedings.
* One should sprinkle lime powder around the house to expel evil.
* One should return all things borrowed, and pay debts before TET.



-  One shouldn't say or do bad things during New Year.
-  One shouldn't hurt or kill animals or plants but should set them free. The reason for this originates from Buddhism's causality.
-  One shouldn't sweep the house or empty out the rubbish to avoid luck and benefits going with it, especially on the first day of the new year. One shouldn't let the broom in confusion if people don't want it to be stolen.
-  One shouldn't give these presents to others: clock or watch (the recipient's time is going to pass), cats (MEO in Vietnamese language pronounced like NGEO, poverty), medicine (the receiver will get ill), cuttle fish (its ink is black, an unlucky colour), writing ink (for the same reason), scissors or knives (they bring incompatibility).
-  One shouldn't have duck meat because it brings unluckiness.
-  One shouldn't have shrimp in case one would move backwards like shrimp, in other words, one would not succeed.
-  One shouldn't buy or wear white clothes because white is the colour of funerals in Vietnam.
-  One shouldn't let the rice-hulling mill go empty because it symbolizes failed crops.
-  One shouldn't refuse anything others give or wish you during TET




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