Tet Holiday in Vietnam in the eyes of foreigners

Tet Holiday or the Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in Vietnam. Following the lunar calendar, so the Tet Holiday in Vietnam is late in comparison to the new solar year. Every 3 years, there is an extra month in the lunar calendar, so the first day of the Lunar New Year is never before January 21 or never after February 19 in the solar calendar. That is why the Tet Holiday happens often in late January and mid-February in the solar calendar. The Lunar New Year lasts about 7-8 days.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Each year, the Tet Holiday takes place in Vietnam and in countries in which there is the Vietnamese community. During the festival, families gather together, people meet each other. This is also the occasion for that they practice ancestor worship ... There are usually also the taboos to avoid.

En reality, the calculation of the lunar calendar in Vietnam is different from China so the Tet Holiday in Vietnam is not often coincident with the Chinese New Year and with the countries influenced by Chinese culture.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam - The main steps: 

The Vietnamese people believe that for the Tet Holiday, everything must be early and new again. Therefore, two weeks before the New Year, families begin to prepare things for the New Year. They sweep the house, decorate it, buy flowers, and prepare food ... in a very caring way. In addition, all the things that are not necessary or can bring bad omens ... should be thrown away.

The last days of the year: 

In Vietnam, the preparation work for the party usually starts from 23 December in lunar calendar where we present offerings to the God of Tao or God of the kitchen who records all family activities to make the report to the Jade Emperor in the Heaven. The offerings include incense, candles, fruits, and two hats… for man and for woman, votive papers, carp ... According to legend, the God of Tao takes carp to flight to heaven.

The beginning: 

The Tet Holiday in Vietnam begins with the Feast of Tat Nien or End of Year celebration that is an important reunion dinner for all families. Tonight, the moment between 23h of the old year and 0 h of January New Year or hour of the Rat is the most important time of the Tet Holiday. This moment marks the transfer from the old year and to the new one. To commemorate this moment, people often make two meals: one is offered to the ancestors in the house and one for Heaven, Earth and for lost souls or without descendants.

During these ceremonies, often family members are in front of the altar (not all, only the owners and some others) require prosperity, good health, assistance to spirits and ancestors. We also require the permission of the God of the earth so that the souls of ancestors can return easily at home to celebrate Tet Holiday with the family...

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Between the first three and seven days of the New Year: 

The first day of the lunar January or the first day of New Year is considered as the most important moment in Tet Holiday. Among this day, the children gather in the family to practice the worship of ancestors,  say best wishes to the elderly: parents, grandparents, seniors ... According to the concept, every new year comes, everyone has an new age, so that in the first day of New Year, the descendants welcome this New Age in wishing longevity to parents, grandparents and seniors.

The meeting of relatives, cousins, nieces… is to strengthen the family ties. The wishes of the Tet Holiday are usually the good health, prosperity, luck, the realization of wishes ... If we had bad luck, we encourage to each other and by believing that it can go away in the new year.

The meeting of neighbors and families living around ... is used to wish them good things for the new year. This meeting helps people to get together, eliminate all evil from the previous year to joyfully welcome the new year. During the Tet Holiday, students come to visit also the teachers...

The 3rd or 4th day of January of the lunar calendar, we prepare the farewell dinner for ancestors who had to spend the holidays with their descendants and in this moment, we burn votive papers for them.

Finally, we take advantage of the last days of the Tet Holiday to go to the pagoda to express wishes. There are people who do not go there all year but they believe that at the beginning of the year, in the sacred places, their wishes are easy to be realized. In this occasion, we also contribute money to temples, pagodas as the gift.

Tet Holiday in Vietnam with two south – Korean peoples: 

For many foreigners who participated in the traditional Tet Holiday in Vietnam, this is an exciting opportunity. The people we met and in discussions, they were really impressed with unique culture and warm hospitality of the local people in Nghe An province in central Vietnam.

When we talked about memories of the traditional Tet Holiday in Vietnam, Ms. Choe Yeongia and Mr. Hwang Kyoungmin, the volunteers of Industrial school of Vietnam - South Korea or Viet - South Korean school have laughed aloud with full happiness, "Oh! That's so nice! We were really impressed when we attended the Tet Holiday in Vietnam! ".

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

The story starts from Ms. Choe Yeongja born in 1956 who is a professor of Korean language. Since 2012, her husband worked at the University of Thai Nguyen in North of Vietnam as the expert of the Organization of KOICA.

Ms. Choe told: "During the telephone conversation and each back home, my husband talked me much about hospitality, the warm affection of the Vietnamese people for him.

I also went to Vietnam for 5 times for tourism so I have clearly this sacred feeling and I was very eager to get to work in Vietnam. This is why, in late 2013, after retirement, I joined to the Organization of KOICA to obtain a volunteer position in Vietnam ... “.

On February 2014, Ms. Choe participated in the first Tet Holiday in Vietnam, but in Ho Chi Minh City. She was most impressed by the culture of the Vietnamese people, especially the by traditional Banh Chung which is the cake for this occasion. She said that the Vietnamese Tet has similarities to the Korean New Year, so she felt familiar, warm and close as at home. Also in 2015, she took their two sons from South Korea to Vietnam to celebrate the Tet Holiday in Nghe An - the hometown of Ho Chi Minh President.

As for M.Hwang Kyoungmin born in 1985 who is the professor of mechanics faculty of the Vietnam - South Korea School. He had time to do Tet in the year of Horse in 2014 in Nghe An. He shared: "I am very impressed by the way that the peoples of Vietnam greeted the New Year. Above all, these are peach, kumquat flowers ion arrival of the Tet Holiday. During this Tet, my friends offered me a peach and a small kumquat. In addition, I was warmly welcomed at their homes with many delicious traditional dishes ". As Mme.Choe, M.Hwang was particularly impressed by the Banh Chung. The professor Hwang told: “I was offered a lot of Banh Chung. Many people were worry that I could not eat it but I ate Banh Chung all day, I ate this dish without getting tired! After 2 weeks of vacation, I gained over 1.5 kilos ''. The young teacher shared: '' Before the feast of Tet, some Korean volunteers in other provinces of Vietnam have contacted me to propose me to travel but my friends in Nghe An invited me to celebrate Tet Holiday with their families, so I decided to stay in the city of Vinh to have more good memories. In this new year, I learned how to do Banh Chungs of Vietnam so that later when I return to South Korea, I can do it so that my friends have the chance to enjoy this specialty, '' continued the young professor.

Tet Holiday with M.Dustin Gerding, an American living in Vinh: 

In recent years, in the Centre of English in the city of Vinh, there are often foreign teachers to teach English. We met M.Dustin Gerding, a 29 years old American. He was born and growth in New York. After graduating from the specialized faculty of Foreign Affairs and Culture, Dustin worked primarily as a volunteer abroad. Before coming to Vietnam, Dustin worked in 18 countries.

From February 17, 2014, he went to Vinh and his work schedule would last until 2015. According to the American professor, almost everything in Vinh is nice, from the weather to the population. "Here, the winter is warmer and summer is cooler than in New York. People are very friendly. The only problem is that the traffic is a bit complicated, but I got used and now I can drive motorcycle on the road with confidence", Dustin said.

Before going to Vietnam, he had read many books, articles on traditional Tet of Vietnam. "As this is my first Tet Holiday in Vietnam, I was impatient. Probably, the Vietnamese Tet Holiday is very different with our New Year. Last year, I went well in Vietnam after Tet, but I also had the chance to watch and enjoy the peach, Banh Chung... It was really great! In this year, there were many friends who invited me to celebrate the Tet Holiday with their family and it is very difficult for me to deny all these invitations. "Dustin shared.

The traditional Vietnamese Tet is very important and increasingly attractive to international friends. We always see a '' hot '' sensation of the meeting, solidarity and culture impregnated with national identity in the Tet Holiday, even in the new era...