The Significance of Tết: Celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Celebrating Tet or Vietnamese Lunar New Year at a Northern family.

    Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is a special festival in Vietnam that has a lot of cultural importance. It brings families together to celebrate and remember their heritage, traditions, and ancestors.

    In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of Tết, including its history, customs, and unique celebrations that take place all over the country. Join us on this journey to discover the rich tapestry of Vietnamese culture and the deep meaning of Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

    The Origins of Tết or Vietnamese Lunar New Year

    Tết comes from the old farming days in Vietnam. It used to celebrate the start of spring and the new farming season. In Vietnam, farming was really important, so Tết was a time to be happy about finishing the harvest and getting ready for the next year of farming.

    The festival showed how much the Vietnamese people relied on the land for food. Tết was a time to be grateful for a good harvest and to ask for good things to happen in the future, like having a successful year ahead.

    Hoa cuc, one of the significant decorating flowers during Tet - Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

    The Tết Festival

    • During Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, everything becomes colorful and special decorations fill homes and public places. Everywhere you look, you’ll see red and gold, which are lucky colors that mean good luck and prosperity.
    • In Vietnamese homes, red paper is used to decorate doors, walls, and windows. People write their wishes and hopes for the new year on this red paper. It’s like a special canvas where they express positive thoughts and dreams for the coming year.
    • Two popular decorations during Tết in North Vietnam are peach blossoms and kumquat trees. Peach blossoms are pretty flowers that symbolize a long and fruitful life. They remind us of growth and the continuous journey of personal and collective development. In South Vietnam, we have Hoa Mai (Apricot blossom). Its vibrant yellow blossoms, signify beauty and prosperity, bringing blessings for a prosperous year ahead.
    • Kumquat trees are also lovely decorations. These small citrus trees have golden fruits and represent wishes for wealth and prosperity in the new year. They remind us of the good things and abundance that will come our way in the future.
    • Tết decorations not only make everything beautiful and happy, but they also have a deeper meaning. They show the optimism, hopes, and dreams of the Vietnamese people as they start a new year. Through these colorful decorations, the Vietnamese community embraces the spirit of starting anew, good luck, and well-being that Tết brings.

    Vietnamese Traditions during Tết

    During Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, there is a special tradition that Vietnamese families love. They have an ancestral altar at home, which is like a special table. On the altar, they put pictures, objects that have meaning, and things to offer. They carefully arrange things like incense, fresh fruit, traditional food, and other items that their ancestors liked.

    When the family gathers around the altar, they do special actions and say prayers. They say thanks for what their ancestors did and ask for their help. It’s a time to think about the past, remember their ancestors, and be together. They share stories and memories to keep their ancestors’ memory alive.

    The ancestral altar is not just a sign of respect, but it also reminds people of the strong connections between generations. It reminds them about the good things that were passed down in the family, like values, wisdom, and traditions. By doing this special practice, Vietnamese families show who they are, make their family ties stronger, and show deep respect for how their ancestors shaped their lives.

    With this important tradition, Vietnamese families show they care about their roots, appreciate the past, and believe that different generations are connected to each other.

    Celebrations Across Vietnam

    In Northern Vietnam, they celebrate Tết by enjoying a traditional food called “Bánh Chưng.” It’s a special kind of sticky rice cake that has a square shape. To make it, they layer sticky rice, mung beans, and pork inside banana leaves.

    Making “Bánh Chưng” is a fun family activity. Everyone helps out in preparing this special dish. It represents the Earth and how important farming is in Northern Vietnamese culture.

    In Southern Vietnam, Tết is celebrated with a different kind of rice cake called “Bánh Tét.” Unlike the square-shaped “Bánh Chưng,” this one is cylindrical.

    The ingredients and the way “Bánh Tét” is made are different from the Northern version. This shows the variation in taste and cooking traditions between the regions. Families gather together to make and enjoy “Bánh Tét” as they celebrate their Southern Vietnamese heritage.

    Tết and Vietnamese Identity

    Tết plays a significant role in bringing families closer and strengthening their bonds. It’s a special time when families make a heartfelt effort to come together and celebrate, even if they are separated by distance.

    Tết reminds us to cherish our families and place them at the center of our lives. It creates a warm and loving atmosphere where the importance of family shines through. During Tết, families gather around, engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing delicious meals, and simply enjoying one another’s presence. It’s a time for reconnecting, reminiscing, and reaffirming the value of family in our lives.

    In the midst of the festivities, Tết serves as a gentle reminder to prioritize family relationships. It rekindles the warmth and love that may sometimes get overshadowed by the busyness of daily life. Tết allows us to pause, reflect, and embrace the joyous moments spent with our loved ones. It reinforces the belief that family is a precious treasure that brings happiness and fulfillment.

    Tết is more than just a celebration; it is a reminder of the deep bonds that tie families together. It is a time to appreciate and strengthen these connections, fostering a sense of unity and togetherness that lasts beyond the festive season.

    Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is a special festival that honors traditions, family ties, and our cultural heritage. Families come together to pay respect to ancestors, seek blessings, and reflect on the past year.

    During Tết, you’ll experience lively decorations, unique customs, and bustling markets that showcase the strength of Vietnamese culture. It’s a time when we support our local economy and engage with our community. Let’s embrace the beauty of Vietnamese traditions and wish for a joyful and prosperous Tết celebration for everyone.

    Ready for an exciting cultural adventure? Visit Vietnamese Language Studies (VLS) today and let us guide you to discover the treasures of Tết and Vietnamese culture. Whether you’re a curious learner, a seasoned traveler, or someone looking to connect with your Vietnamese roots, VLStudies is here to accompany you on this enriching journey. Come join us in celebrating Tết and uncover the true essence of Vietnamese culture.


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