Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in the year and on this occasion, with the country full of traditions and culture like Vietnam, there are a lot of customs that Vietnamese often do to wish happy, lucky and significance of the Vietnamese in order to wish a happy, luck and prosperous year. Tet holiday is also the chance for all members in the family to reunite, visit relatives, give each other the best wishes,… The following are some Vietnamese customs during Tet:
Banh Chung, Banh Giay (Earth cakes, Sky cakes)
Banh Chung or Banh Giay is a traditional and must-have dish on Tet of Vietnamese people. These cakes are made from sticky rice, mung beans, pork, black pepper and wrapped in Dong leaves. Vietnamese families often make Banh Chung, Banh Giay on 27th, 28th or 29th of the last lunar month as a long-standing tradition to make offer for the ancestors and give as gift for relatives or friends.
Kitchen Gods Farewell Ceremony
23rd of the last lunar month is the day that the Kitchen Gods (Ong Cong Ong Tao) have to go up to Heaven Palace to make an annual report to the Jade Emperor of all the family’s events throughout the year. So on this day, Vietnamese families will clean up their kitchen and buy goldfish, paper clothes, fruits,… to offer farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods.
Apricot flowers in the south, peach flowers in the north and kumquat trees are the popular flowers on Tet in Vietnam which are symbols for new beginning, happiness, luck and prosperity. Recently, besides peach and apricot flowers, there are a lot kinds of flowers which Vietnamese people often buy to decorate their house during Tet such as orchids, lilies, chrysanthemums,…
Clean and decorate the house
Families in Vietnam often clean up and decorate their in the last days of the year. They believe that cleaning up the house will get rid of all the bad, unlucky things in the old year and welcome the new year with of the bad things of the year prepared to welcome the year New with fortune and luck.
The five-fruit tray is an indispensable part placed on Vietnamese family’s altar on the Tet to pray for a new year with full of happiness, luck and prosperity. Like its name, the five-fruit tray includes five kinds of fruits such as banana, pomelo, peach, mandarin, and persimmon; depending on each region, these fruits can be different. Families sometimes can put more than 5 fruits onto the tray to make it more abundant like: grape, chilly, apple,…
Visit ancestor’s graves
Members in the family will pay a visit to their ancestor’s graves on the last day of every lunar year to invite the dead forefathers to return home to celebrate Tet holidays with their families. This is a popular custom of the Vietnamese people, showing the gratitude and respect to their ancestors. They also clean and decorate the graves, in the same manner that the livings clean and decorate their houses to welcome the New Year.
Welcome New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve (or Giao Thừa in Vietnamese) is the “passage from the Old to the New Year”. To welcome the New Year, people can offer both indoor and outdoor ceremonies. The outdoor ceremony is made to send thanks to gods while the indoor ceremony took place in the house to invite the spirit of ancestors to come back home, celebrating the Tet Holiday with the whole family and wishing for a great new year.
Xong Dat refers to the first person who comes to the house after the New Year’s Eve. Vietnamese people believe that person will bring luck, happiness and success for the family so choosing a suitable person to “Xong Dat” is very important. This guest often are well respected, well educated, successful, famous,… The belief of Xong Dat still remains nowadays, especially among families with businesses.
Give lucky money
During Tet, Vietnamese people often go to visit their relatives, friends, give them the best wishes in the New Year. After that, the elder people often give the red envelopes filled with lucky money to younger people, encouraging them to keep up with the schoolwork, live harmoniously with others, and obey their parents.
Visit the temples in the New Year
Visiting the temples in the early days of the New Year is a beautiful culture of Vietnamese people. It is not only to pray for a new year of luck, happiness but also express their devotion to the Buddha and ancestors.
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