A different kind of New Year – Tet Festival in Vietnam

Although we’re still in the midst of our own festive season, other cultures around the world aren’t there just yet. In Vietnam for example, people are gearing up for the annual Tet Festival.

A busy flower market during the Tet festival, Vietnam

A busy flower market during the Tet festival, Vietnam

Tet Festival (or Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning The First Day) is celebrated all over Vietnam, but are concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City. Marking the end of the lunar calendar and the start of Spring, Tet officially last a week, though celebrations can last quite a lot longer depending on the region in which you find yourself. This is a time for renewal, for cooking special cuisine, housecleaning, giving gifts and wishing each other well. Memorise the phrase ‘chúc mùng nam mói’, which means Happy New Year. It’s also considered a very good time for starting new business ventures. As a visitor you’ll want to be there for New Year’s Eve, as the rest of the festival is considered to be more of a family affair.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Before Tet, it is believed that the three Spirits of the Hearth, found in the kitchen of every home, ascend to the heavens to report on the events of the year just gone to the Jade Emperor. Offerings are heaped upon altars in the kitchen just before the spirits depart, to help ensure a favourable report and good luck for the year ahead. Absent family members return home to celebrate, and people also visit cemeteries to invite the spirits of dead family members home for the celebrations.

If New Years Eve in the west hasn’t quite sated your appetite for pandemonium, New Year in Vietnam will certainly do it. This is the night that the Tao Queen returns to earth, and on the stroke of midnight all problems from the previous year are left behind. The goal here is to make as much noise as possible – expect drums and percussion – but probably not firecrackers, as these were banned some time ago. Nonetheless you’ll be in for a night to remember!

Read more about Tet Festival here. And wherever you are in the world tonight, Happy New Year from all of us at On The Go Tours!

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