Watermelon, Chung cake, Tet cake, lucky money.. Yes, you guess it right, I’m referring to the biggest celebration in Vietnam, Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet, as of how the Vietnamese usually call it, is the New Year, very similar to Chinese New Year in several ways the event has its own unique charms.
Tet’s atmosphere starts prior than the main dates itself. 1 month prior to Tet, people are already rushing with the preparation: making traditional dried candied fruits, cleaning and decorating the house, making the special cakes for Tet, shopping for new clothes, just like how the Western would prepare for Christmas.
The closer to the Tet’s Eve, it gets busier everywhere. Big cities starts to empty as everyone heads to their hometown to gather with family, every businesses rush to finish prior to the events. There is a saying: “As empty as the New Year’s Eve”, which indicated the fact that nobody outside doing any business, as this is the time to head for home, for the family. Nowadays, you will still find that most of the stores, markets closed several days before Tet or latest on the last day of the year.
New Year’s Eve for many families is the gathering time, where people will have a small meal to worship the ancestors and thankful for the protection and all the good things happened last year. In the past, when fire crackers were still allowed, then you would hear a lot of crackling and amusement. Nowadays, people anticipant eagerly for the fireworks to begin.
So, what is it like during Tet?
People dress nicely to visit the temple and the graveyard of your late loved ones. Followed by visitation of the relatives, where the children and the elders will get the lucky money, as a wish for health and luck all year around. At each house, people invite you for a drink, can be either tea or alcohol and some sweets, wishing each other for a smooth new year.
The Tet has 3 official days, traditionally, the first day is to visit the Father’s family, second day for the Mother’s family, third day for the teachers, neighbors, and friends. However, nowadays, family size tends to be smaller, people would just combine everything in a single day for the convenience.
The most common entertainment during Tet is “gambling”, kids have their own set of games, which they can use a part of the lucky money to play. Adults also gather around to gamble, on a small scale and fun way to relax rather than serious gambling.
Some of the items are always present during Tet are:
The Chung and Tet cake
Both are the traditional glutinous rice cake for Tet, that have the square and round shape respectively, symbolised the ground on our feet and the sky above our head. The cake is a combination of the meat, green bean, sticky rice, wrapped in the banana leaf and cooked over 48 hours and served with a typical fish sauce. The cooking part is the most interesting part as everyone get to gather around the charcoal stove, take turns to be in charge and exchange the stories. Simple connection in the old style.
The fruit, with the red coloured juicy flesh covered with a smooth hard green skin, is believed to represent luck combined with hard work for a fruitful year.
Once a upon a time, the king gotten angry because the prince stated the fact that with hands and brain, everything and anything is possible. The king wanted to challenge his son, he forced him and his family to live on an island, without any food or water.
One day, the birds brought some strange seeds to the island, he planted it and watermelons began to grow successfully. Since then, he has been trading the fruit for food, clothes, and water. The business went so well that he has built his own kingdom from the island, and proven his word to his father.
A tray of different type of dried candied fruits to invite your guests while having the chatting. the tray normally contains the 5 different types of fruits depend on where you from in Vietnam, for eg, the south five-fruit tray will contain: custard apple, cluster fig coconut, papaya, and mango which each fruit pronounced in Vietnamese are “Cầu sung dừa đủ xài”. The whole sentence means: wishing a well-being year with enough prosperity.
The core value of the New Year has always remains in the hearts of the Vietnamese: time for the reunion, for connection and good wishes. If you wish to join in with the Vietnamese and bask in good wishes and joy, come and have a chat with us anytime at email@example.com.
June explores different roles to find out what is her passion. She used to be a travel consultant, a Kindergarden English teacher, an Expedia’s Lodging Partner Support agent, and the latest is being a freelancer. Eventually, she figures that her passion is to express the hospitality spirit from her heart and inspire others from her works. Being a writer for LadyRedot, where she get inspired and inspire others, and running her own bed and breakfast in her homeland. She views life as a colorful and adventurous journey, join her as she shares her passion with you! You can reach out to her @ LinkedIn.