Tet holiday in Vietnam

Tết Nguyên Đán, more commonly known by its shortened name Tết or "Vietnamese Lunar New Year", 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, a lunisolar calendar. The name Tết Nguyên Đán is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning, derived from the Hán nôm characters 節元旦.

Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worshiping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.

Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).
Tet - Lunar New Year in Viet Nam - is the most important festival tradition, observed by all Vietnamese, even those abroad. Every family in Viet Nam, whether they have money or not still tries to buy traditional goods such as flowers, sweets and square rice cakes for this special occasion.

A few bloggers around the country are posting their perceptions on the lead up to the Year of the Dog. Royby, a blogger from Ho Chi Minh city mentions that Tet should bring good luck and prosperity for the following year if…your house is overflowing with food, drink

In my blog, I write that the western New Year festival is not the most important for the Vietnamese; the lunar New Year is the one that every Vietnamese celebrates. The preparation for Tet is chaotic, with shopping being the number one priority. Some Hanoians travel as far as Lang Son, on the Vietnam-China border for supplies where goods are dirt cheap and , of course, made in China. Virtual-Doug, an American blogger currently living in Hue, watches as walls are painted and houses are cleaned in preparation for Tet. There is always a race on for builders to finish all construction work before the end of the year to ensure good luck for the occupants.

For a Vietnamese like me, currently living away from home, seeing everyone preparing their houses, shopping for their children and themselves makes me happy with anticipation. The Vietnamese government has banned the use of fire crackers, which is sensible as the injury and death associated with them no longer occurs. However, the local authorities in the big cities do organize official fireworks displays which are attended by thousands of families who want to see in the New Year with a bang!


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