Finally, one of the most anticipating occasions of the year is right around the corner. Tet, or Lunar new year, is a Vietnamese traditional holiday to mark the beginning of a new year, hence, a fresh start for everyone. It’s when people take a break from working so hard all year around and go back home to have a good time with their loved ones. Here at Saigon Hotpot, we’re also going to have a holiday break but don’t worry, because this post is here to walk you through the 8 steps that help you celebrate the occasion like a real local.
1-Cleaning your house and going shopping
It’s normal for Vietnamese to give their house a thorough clean at the end of the year. Just like how we give ourselves a makeover for Tet, Vietnamese also tidy and decorate their house with Tet-themed designs such as: parallel sentences that inscribed wishes for a successful year, fake firecracker and some traditional flowers. Here in the South, we usually use apricot while Northern people prefer cherry blossom. Red and yellow are the favorite colors for the occasion due to the belief that they represent luck and prosperity.
2-Making traditional food
Although nowadays, we can easily buy these kinds of dishes but for a lot of families, hand making them is also a must do whenever Tet arrives. Two of the most popular dishes are bánh chưng (sticky rice cake stuffed with pork and green bean paste) and củ kiệu (pickled scallion head). The labor put into making these dishes really pays off when you take the first bite of your work on the first day of the New year.
3-Wearing ao dai
As you may know, ao dai is Vietnam’s national costume and up till now, this kind of outfit is still preferred by women on special occasions. And there is no better way to honor the beauty of our national costume than to wear it for Tet. Women nowadays favour modern designs which put some contemporary touch to the conventional look of the ao dai. It is truly a combination of profound traditional values.
Lucky money is delivered inside of a red envelope by the elders to their kids, nephews, nieces or grandchildren. Lucky money is a form of wishing the young children with good things. Kids will first give thanks and wish the elders then receive lucky money in return. The amount of money inside the envelope doesn’t matter, only the good intentions and kind hearts count. Usually, a person will be able to receive lucky money until they get married, which is considered a sign of maturity.
One special feature of Tet in Saigon is the Flower festival annually held on Nguyen Hue pedestrian street. Every Tet holiday, this street is filled with gorgeous flower designs related to the zodiac sign of the year. People would usually come here to admire the beautiful view, enjoy the festive atmosphere and take some pictures.
At Tet, it’s considered okay to try out your luck a little bit, as long as you don’t get too carried away. That’s why friends and families would normally gather around and play some games of luck such as cards or “lô tô” (a Vietnamese version of Bingo). If you win big, it’s often believed that you won’t be lucky in your love life that year and vice versa. If you find this interesting, then why don’t you spend some of your lucky money and figure your luck out?!
7-Visiting your relatives
Tet is definitely a time for family reunion. On the first day of the new year, every person in the family will go back to their parents’ house along with their kids or significant other to celebrate a fresh start together. Everybody deserves a cozy family meal with their loved ones after a long year of hard work and that is also the true meaning of Tet: being at home, surrounded by the people you love most.
Tet is not just a cultural beauty of Vietnam but it’s so much more than that. It’s a chance for people to unite with their families, a time for the hard working to take a break, an occasion for people to express care and attention to each other and above all, a time for everyone to be happy and stress-free.
Written by: Thien Khanh
Designed by: Tan Le
Image sources: Google, etc.