The Tết Nguyen Dan, known as Tết, is the most important and popular holiday of Vietnam. It should be noted that Vietnamese Lunar New Year is NOT the same as Chinese Lunar New Year. Although both countries use the lunar calendar, Vietnamese have different customs and traditions than China in their way of celebrating these important dates. According to the historical documentation we have today, the Vietnamese people celebrated the 11th century festivities of Tết by painting themselves, drinking rice wine, welcoming guests to their homes and eating the traditional chung cake. In both the Ly dynasties and Le Thanh Tong, the feast was a very important event.

fuego artificales tet vietnam

Tết, Vietnamese New Year

The Tết is the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year, which marks the arrival of spring on the basis of the lunar calendar , for that reason the festival is also called Hôi Xuân (spring festival). The celebration of Tết extends from the first day of the lunar calendar month to at least the third, although the celebrations usually last for a week, at the end of January or the beginning of February. In 2019 Tết is February 5, year of the pig according to the Chinese zodiac. During these dates the Vietnamese dedicate themselves to rest, to clean the house, to spend time in the temples or at home with their relatives and friends, forgetting the problems of the previous year and wishing each other a happy new year. People consider that what they do and how they behave on these dates will determine their destiny for the whole year, so they always try to smile and behave as well as they can in the hope of a better year. Preparations for Tet start one or two weeks before the date itself.

Dates from Tết

Tý (Rat) 19 February 1996 7 February 2008 25 January 2020 11 February 2032
Sửu (Ox) 7 February 1997 26 January 2009 12 February 2021 31 January 2033
Dần (Tiger) 28 January 1998 14 February 2010 1 February 2022 19 February 2034
Mão (Gato) 16 February 1999 3 February 2011 22 January 2023 8 February 2035
Thìn (Dragon) 5 February 2000 23 January 2012 10 February 2024 28 January 2036
Tỵ (Snake) 24 January 2001 10 February 2013 29 January 2025 15 February 2037
Ngọ (Horse) 12 February 2002 31 January 2014 17 February 2026 4 February 2038
Mui (Goat) 1 February 2003 19 February 2015 6 February 2027 24 January 2039
Thân (Mono) 22 January 2004 8 February 2016 26 January 2028 12 February 2040
Dậu (Rooster) 9 February 2005 28 January 2017 13 February 2029 1 February 2041
Tuất (Dog) 29 January 2006 16 February 2018 2 February 2030 22 January 2042
Hợi (Pig) 18 February 2007 5 February 2019 23 January 2031 10 February 2043

A 100% family party

Vietnamese often return to their families during Tết to spend time together, worship the family altar and visit the graves of their ancestors in their homeland. Although Tết is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region of the country has its own customs somewhat different from the others.

flores vietnamitas y familia durante el tet

Few services in operation

Since all Vietnamese return with their families during this week, it is very difficult to find shops, hotels and restaurants open , so unless you already have accommodation booked, we do not recommend you travel on these dates: there are few services and those you will find available will ask exorbitant prices . Also the guides that you find available will ask you the double or even the triple of money with respect to any other time of the year.

The periods of the Tết

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

Before New Year’s Eve: Tât Niên

This period begins one to two weeks before the celebration of Tết as such. The general atmosphere that can be experienced in Vietnam these days is that of shopping bustle , decorating the house, preparing the traditional dishes of Tết and waiting for the children and relatives to return home. In the days leading up to Tết, the streets and markets are full of people.

Shopping and Preparation

It is common for parents to purchase new clothing for their children so that they can wear on their return home and during the days following Tết. Since all stores will be closed during Tết, it is on these days that Vietnamese are busiest shopping for family meals, home decor and clothing. It would be like Western culture’s pre-Christmas shopping.

Preparation of traditional dishes

In the days leading up to Tết, each Vietnamese family cuisine traditional foods from these dates, such as bánh chưng and bánh dầy. The preparation of these dishes is very complex and family members take turns watching the fire overnight, telling stories about Tết from previous years and catching up on how the previous year has gone. One of the most popular traditional meals during Tết is the Mut (candied fruit), which is not served with meals but as a snack to welcome guests visiting the house.

traditional vietnamese new year's food

New Year:

The first day of Tết is reserved for the nearest family . The children dress in new clothes and greet the elders with the traditional greeting of Tết to receive the lucky money in exchange in a red envelope. People also wish each other prosperity and luck. Since Vietnamese believe that the first visitor who receives a family on the first day of the year determines their fortune for that year, a person who conveys good humour, morality and success will be the lucky symbol for the host family and that person will be the first to be invited into the house. This special activity is called xông đất or xông nhà and is one of the most important rituals during the Tet. Being invited to a house is considered an honor because it means that a family has that person in great consideration.

Tabus and superstitions

During Tết there are several superstitions and unwritten rules that the Vietnamese follow in order not to alienate the positivism that this time of year transmits. For example, sweeping during Tết is a taboo because it symbolizes sweeping luck. It is also taboo for anyone who has experienced the recent loss of a family member to visit someone else during Tết.

After New Year

During the following days, people visit family and friends . Traditionally – though not strictly – the second day of Tết is usually reserved for friends, while the third day is for teachers, highly respected people in Vietnam. Local temples are very crowded these days because people like to make offerings and read the fortune that awaits them in the new year that begins.

Decorations during the Tết

Vietnamese families often buy fruit trees such as melocoteros, kumquats and oranges. Also flowers are widely used to decorate houses, mostly crysanthemums or orchids . The colors red and yellow are very visible during these dates.

tienda de decoración ano nuevo vietnam