You may have heard of Chinese New Year, maybe you’ve even attended celebrations with your local Chinese community or “chinatown”, but did you know that it’s celebrated across Asia as Lunar New Year? Last weekend, billions across the world celebrated the beginning of the New Year according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Lunar New Year is traditionally celebrated for about 23 days in total, with particular rituals and traditions across the period. Here, Joseph–our volunteer and seminarian–is here to explain Vietnamese New Year, how Vietnam celebrates Lunar New Year, to you.
Hello everybody, I wish you a Happy New Year- “Chúc mừng năm mới”. Have you ever heard about Vietnamese New Year or Tet? Today I would like to about how Vietnamese people celebrate Tet holiday. Among many festivals, Tet is considered to be the most important and popular because Tet is a very good occasion for people to express their respect and remembrance for ancestors as well as welcome family reunions. The name “Tet” is an abbreviation of “Tết Nguyên Đán”, which means “Feast of the first morning of the first day.” For Vietnamese, it marks the beginning of the New Year on the lunar calendar and beginning of the Spring.
In preparation for Tet, people are busy shopping, decorating their houses with flowers such as peach blossoms in the North, apricot blossoms in the South traditionally and many other colourful flowers. On the southern Vietnam, people decorate a tray of five kinds of fruits such as soursop, fig, coconut, papaya and mango since they sound like “Cầu sung vừa đủ xài” which means “we pray for enough (ex: money, goods….)” in the southern dialect. One of the Tet’s special food is “Bánh Chưng”, which is made from green beans, glutinous rice and fatty pork wrapped in banana leaves. Pickled onion and cabbage are considered to be favourite foods by many people during Tet . “Mứt”, which is dried candied fruits, and some kinds of seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and watermelon seeds are also popular in every family.
There are a lot of customs practiced during Tet. Traditionally the first day of Tet is reserved for visiting family. The second day is set aside for visiting relatives and the third day is for teachers. When people visit a person’s house, they often exchange New Year’s wishes or greetings such as “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới”- Happy New Year; “Sống lâu trăm tuổi”- Long life of 100 years; “An khang thịnh vượng”- Security, good health and prosperity; and “Vạn sự như ý”- May a myriad of things go according to your will- and so on. During Tet, children are happy to receive “lucky money” wrapped in red envelops from adults. In addition to certain things to observe during Tet, there are also certain things for people to avoid because people think that what they do on the first days of the New Year will influent during the whole year. People wish to do the best they can in order to be nice and polite to each other in the hope for a better year.
For my part, Tet has special attached meaning to me. Although I cannot come back to gather with family members, visit relatives, teachers and friends, in my heart I always remember and wish them a happy New Year.
If you have opportunity to visit Vietnam during Tet holiday, make sure you join this festival and have a wonderful time to welcome Tet with my beloved Vietnamese!