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  • Tết

    Tết ([tet˧˥] or [təːt˧˥]), Vietnamese New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Tet Holiday, is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán (節元旦), which is Sino-Vietnamese for “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”. Tết celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar, which usually has the date falling in January or February in the Gregorian calendar.[1]

    Vietnamese people celebrate the Lunar New Year annually, which is based on a lunisolar calendar (calculating both the motions of Earth around the Sun and of the Moon around Earth). Tết is generally celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, except when the one-hour time difference between Vietnam and China results in new moon occurring on different days. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Vietnamese calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday food and cleaning the house. These foods include bánh chưng, bánh dày, dried young bamboo soup (canh măng), giò, and sticky rice. Many customs are practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestor worship, 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. They start forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hope 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).

    History

    Customs

    Tất Niên offering
    A family altar in Vietnam
    Altar to the ancestors adorned with flowers, fruits and food offerings

    Vietnamese people usually return to their families during Tết. Some return to worship at the family altar or visit the graves of their ancestors in their homeland. They also clean the graves of their family as a sign of respect. Although Tết is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region and religion has its own customs.

    Tết in the three Vietnamese regions can be divided into three periods, known as Tất Niên (penultimate New Year’s Eve), Giao Thừa (New Year’s Eve), and Tân Niên (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tết, the eve of Tết, and the days of and following Tết, respectively.

    The New Year

    A red envelope.

    The first day of Tết is reserved for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called mừng tuổi (happy new age) in the north and lì xì in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional Tết 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 Tết is called xông đất, xông nhà or đạp đất, which is one of the most important rituals during Tết. 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.

    Sweeping during Tết is taboo or xui (unlucky), since it symbolizes sweeping the luck away; that is why they clean before the new year. It is also taboo for anyone who experienced a recent loss of a family member to visit anyone else during Tết.

    During subsequent days, people visit relatives and friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second day of Tết 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 Tết. Children are free to spend their new money on toys or on gambling games such as bầu cua cá cọp, which can be found in the streets. Prosperous families can pay for dragon dancers to perform at their house. Also, public performances are given for everyone to watch.

    Traditional celebrations

    These celebrations can last from a day up to the entire week, and the New Year is filled with people in the streets trying to make as much noise as possible using firecrackers, drums, bells, gongs, and anything they can think of to ward off evil spirits. This parade will also include different masks, and dancers hidden under the guise of what is known as the Mua Lan or Lion Dancing. The Lan is an animal between a lion and a dragon, and is the symbol of strength in the Vietnamese culture that is used to scare away evil spirits. After the parade, families and friends come together to have a feast of traditional Vietnamese dishes, and share the happiness and joy of the New Year with one another. This is also the time when the elders will hand out red envelopes with money to the children for good luck in exchange for Tết greetings.

    It is also tradition to pay off your debts before the Lunar New Year for some Vietnamese families.[2]

    Decorations

    Street decoration honouring the Year of the Dragon (2012)
    New Year decoration in Ho Chi Minh City
    Tết display on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City

    Traditionally, each family displays cây nêu, 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 Tết, every house is usually decorated by Yellow Apricot blossoms (hoa mai) in the central and southern parts of Vietnam; or peach blossoms (hoa đào) in the northern part of Vietnam; or St. John’s wort (hoa ban) in the mountain areas. In the north, some people (especially the elite in the past[citation needed]) also decorate their house with a plum blossoms (also called hoa mai in Vietnamese, but referring to a totally different species from mickey-mouse blossoms[citation needed]). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during Tết. Its many fruits symbolize the fertility and fruitfulness for which the family hopes in the coming year.

    Vietnamese people also decorate their homes with bonsai and flowers such as chrysanthemums (hoa cúc), marigolds (vạn thọ) symbolizing longevity, cockscombs (mào gà) in southern Vietnam and paperwhites (thủy tiên) and pansies (hoa lan) in northern Vietnam. In the past was a tradition where people tried to make their paperwhites bloom on the day of the observance.

    They also hung up Dong Ho paintings and calligraphy pictures.

    Fruit basket decoration made for Tết consisting of bananas, oranges, tangerines, a pomelo, and a pineapple
    Peach blossoms (hoa đào)
    Yellow Apricot blossoms (hoa mai)
    Chúc mừng năm mới translates to “Happy New Year”

    Greetings

    A calligraphist writing in Hán-Nôm in preparation for Tết, at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi
    Chùa Quang Minh Buddhist Temple in Chicago indicating the arrival of the New Year with a banner that reads “Chúc mừng xuân mới” (literally “Happy new spring”).

    The traditional greetings are “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (Happy New Year) and “Cung Chúc Tân Xuân“, (gracious wishes of the new spring). People also wish each other prosperity and luck. Common wishes for Tết include:

    • Sống lâu trăm tuổi (long life of 100 years): used by children for elders. Traditionally, everyone is one year older on Tết, so children would wish their grandparents health and longevity in exchange for mừng tuổi or lì xì.
    • An khang thịnh vượng (安康興旺, security, good health, and prosperity)
    • Vạn sự như ý (萬事如意, may myriad things go according to your will)
    • Sức khỏe dồi dào (Plenty of health)
    • Tiền vô như nước (may money flow in like water): used informally
    • Cung hỉ phát tài (恭喜發財, Congratulations and be prosperous)
    • Năm mới thắng lợi mới: New year, new triumphs (often heard in political speech)
    • Chúc hay ăn chóng lớn: Eat more, grow rapidly (for children)
    • Năm mới thăng quan tiến chức: I wish that you will get promoted in the new year
    • Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family

    “Happy New Year” in cursive writing

    Food

    Bánh chưng
    People gathering around to make these special cakes
    Bánh chưng (bottom) and bánh Tét (top, still being prepared)
    This sticky rice is called xôi gấc

    Candied fruits and seeds

    In Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tết is to ăn Tết, literally meaning “eat Tết”, showing the importance of food in its celebration. Some of the food is also eaten year-round, while other dishes are only eaten during Tết. Also, some of the food is vegetarian since it is believed to be good luck to eat vegetarian on Tết. Some traditional foods on Tết are:

    • Bánh chưng and bánh tét: essentially tightly packed sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in dong () leaves. When these leaves are unavailable, banana leaves can be used as a substitute. One difference between them is their shape. Bánh chưng is the square-shaped one to represent the Earth, while bánh tét is cylindrical to represent the moon. Also, bánh chưng is more popular in the northern parts of Vietnam, so as bánh tét is more popular in the south. Preparation can take days. After moulding them into their respective shapes (the square shape is achieved using a wooden frame), they are boiled for several hours to cook. The story of their origins and their connection with Tết is often recounted to children while cooking them overnight.
    • Hạt dưa: roasted watermelon seeds, also eaten during Tết
    • Dưa hành: pickled onion and pickled cabbage
    • Củ kiệu: pickled small leeks
    • Mứt: These dried candied fruits are rarely eaten at any time besides Tết.
    • Kẹo dừa: coconut candy
    • Kẹo mè xửng: peanut brittle with sesame seeds or peanuts
    • Cầu sung dừa Đủ xoài: In southern Vietnam, popular fruits used for offerings at the family altar in are the custard-apple/sugar-apple/soursop (mãng cầu), coconut (dừa), goolar fig (sung), papaya (đu đủ), and mango (xoài), since they sound like “cầu sung vừa đủ xài” ([We] pray for enough [money/resources/funds/goods/etc.] to use) in the southern dialect of Vietnamese.
    • Thịt Kho Nước Dừa Meaning “meat stewed in coconut juice”, it is a traditional dish of pork belly 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.
    • Xôi Gấc: traditionally a red sticky rice that is typically prepared by steaming and sweetened lightly, typically paired with Chả lụa (most common type of sausage in Vietnamese cuisine, made of pork and traditionally wrapped in banana leaves.)[3]

    Games and entertainment

    Bầu cua tôm cá is a Vietnamese gambling game that involves using three dice. It is traditionally played during Tết.

    People enjoy traditional games during Tết, including: bầu cua cá cọp, cờ tướng, , , and . They also participate in some competitions presenting their knowledge, strength, and aestheticism, such as the bird competition and competition.

    Fireworks displays have also become an traditional part of a Tết celebration in Vietnam. During the New Year’s Eve, fireworks displays at major cities, such as Hà Nội, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, are broadcast through multiple national and local TV channels, accompanied by New Year wishes of the incumbent president. In 2017 only, fireworks displays were prohibited due to political and financial reasons. In the U.S., there are fireworks displays at many of its festivals.

    Gặp nhau cuối năm (Year-end Gathering) is a national favourite comedy show broadcast during the night before the New Year’s Eve.

    Dates in Lunar Calendar

    From 1996 to 2067.

    ZodiacGregorian date
    Tý (Rat)19 February 19967 February 200825 January 202011 February 203230 January 204415 February 2056
    Sửu (Buffalo)7 February 199726 January 200912 February 202131 January 203317 February 20454 February 2057
    Dần (Tiger)28 January 199814 February 20101 February 202219 February 20346 February 204624 January 2058
    Mẹo (Cat)16 February 19993 February 201122 January 20238 February 203526 January 204712 February 2059
    Thìn (Dragon)5 February 200023 January 201210 February 202428 January 203614 February 20482 February 2060
    Tỵ (Snake)24 January 200110 February 201329 January 202515 February 20372 February 204921 January 2061
    Ngọ (Horse)12 February 200231 January 201417 February 20264 February 203823 January 20509 February 2062
    Mùi (Goat)1 February 200319 February 20156 February 202724 January 203911 February 205129 January 2063
    Thân (Monkey)22 January 20048 February 201626 January 202812 February 20401 February 205217 February 2064
    Dậu (Rooster)9 February 200528 January 201713 February 20291 February 204118 February 20535 February 2065
    Tuất (Dog)29 January 200616 February 20182 February 203022 January 20428 February 205426 January 2066
    Hợi (Pig)18 February 20075 February 201923 January 203110 February 204328 January 205514 February 2067

    See also

    References

    1. ^ “TET NGUYEN DAN The Vietnamese New Year”. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 12 June 20131. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
    2. ^ Do, Anh. “Vietnamese prepare for Lunar New Year by paying off debts, a tradition that can often bring stress”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
    3. ^ “Xoi gac-gac sticky rice, fortunate red of Vietnam – Travel information for Vietnam from local experts”. Travel information for Vietnam from local experts. Retrieved 2018-02-11.

    External links


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