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Traditional Customs Of Vietnamese New Year

  • 27/12/2019

For Vietnamese people, Tet is not only a chance to gather with family, but also a time to preserve the national identity through the maintenance of traditional customs. Depending on each region, or according to Vietnamese religious conceptions, the customs and practices in each locality are often a little different. But in general, Vietnamese New Year traditions are being divided into three periods: Farewell the Old Year, New Year's Eve and Happy New Year. Each period corresponds to the preparations, rituals or various forms of expressions.

1 - A Farewell to Land Genie and Kitchen Gods

A Farewell to Land Genie and Kitchen Gods  A Farewell to Land Genie and Kitchen Gods

A Farewell to Land Genie and Kitchen Gods

Every December 23 of the Lunar Calender, Vietnamese families will clean the kitchen to worship Mr. Cong and Mr. Apple. Traditional worshiping ceremony must have gold fish to see him off to heaven, hoping he will tell the Jade Emperor good things because according to popular opinions, this is the day when the Jade Emperor punishes or rewards the house's owner based on what the Land Genie and Kitchen Gods report.

2 - Cleaning the house

The Tet cleanup work is meant to prepare to "see off the old year, welcome the new year". On this day, all furniture will be cleaned, all corners of the house are cleaned and rearranged, new dishes will be prepared for New Year's food tray, decoration items are also put to give the house a newer look.

Cleaning the house

In addition, this is also the time to review the debts that need to be paid, if you can afford it, you are supposed to pay before Tet, not leave it for the new year.

3 - Going to the Tet market

Going to the Tet market

The ancients went to the Tet market mainly to buy dong leaves, pork and buy onions as preparation to wrap Banh chung. Vietnamese people also have fun contemplating flowers and display five-fruit tray on Tet holiday.

The favorite flowers that are indispensable for Tet are peach blossom, apricot blossom, begonia flower, gladiolus, dahlia, etc. The fruits of the five-fruit plate depending on the beliefs and culture of each region. However, all bear similarly meaniful messages: everything will be as smooth as they wish, prosperity, happiness and great luck. 

4 - Asking For Calligraphy Writing

Asking For Calligraphy Writing

When going to Tet market, Vietnamese people won't forget to visit the market gate to ask for the old writing from the Nom teacher, which could be a distich couple or a single word. The ancients often asked for letters to worship with the desire that their children and grandchildren will live up to the meaning of given characters, and that their following generations could grow up to become a true human and citizen. The most popular words which are usually asked for including Tam (Kind), Phuc (Happy), Duc (Moral), An (Peace), Loc (Luck), and so on.

5 - Visiting ancestral graves  

 Visiting ancestral graves

Before Tet, the descendants of the family will enlist the gathering, visiting and cleaning the ancestral graves. Each family brings incense, flowers and fruits to worship, as well as invite the ancestral spirits to come home and celebrate Tet with their descendants. In addition, this is also the time the the extended family of many generations together review the memories of the old year and wish good things for the upcoming new year.

6 - Making Banh chung, Banh tet

Making Banh chung, Banh tet  

Banh chung making is a traditional custom dating back to the 18th glutinous rice civilization of the 18th Hung King. Today, around 28 - 29th day of December in Lunar Calendar, several days before Tet, Vietnamese families often gather to make banh chung and banh tet cake as gifts or to enjoy family reunion atmosphere. It must be people with extremely skillful ability to be able to wrap the cake beautifully and tightly; otherwise the cake will be broken absorb a lot of water, being flabby.

7 - New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve offerings usually involve two ceremonies, one for indoor worship and one for outdoor offerings. The reason why Vietnamese people celebrate New Year's Eve ceremony is because they believe that once a new year begins, there must be an end. The meaning of the ceremony is also to remove all the resentment and regrettings of the old year, welcoming the new year with lots of good things, flourishment, peace and happiness. 

8 - Picking buds

After the New Year Eve, Vietnamese people will choose a good time to leave home and pick new buds, wishing for a new year of good luck and fullness, as well as welcoming the fortune back home. In Vietnamese language, "buds" and "luck" are homophones with those different meanings.

9 - Visiting the temple 

 Visiting the temple

Going to the pagoda ceremony at the beginning of the year is not only simple to pray but it is also a time for people to find their way to their peaceful spiritual mood after the hard-working days for their livelihood; desiring to find the inner peace, and leaving behind all worries and sadness which are supposed to all belong to the past years. 

10 - The first caller (the first person to enter the house)

 The first caller (the first person to enter the house)

Vietnamese people believe that the people who put the first steps into their house of the new year will decide the family's fate in next year. Therefore, they often invite people with good fortune and having age suitable for the landlord to come to be the first caller. People who first steps into the house must dress up, then having to go around the house in the hope that luck will always be abundant with the homeowners.

11 - Happy New Year to Families, Neighbors And Friends 

It can be said that "Happy New Year" is a very unique and indispensable culture in the New Year. When going around to wish people a happy new year, everyone should wear nice clothes, usually red whose meaning is good luck and intense vitality, and bring gifts to celebrate new year with the homeowners.

 Happy New Year to Families, Neighbors And Friends

Vietnamese New Year's culture also has the saying: "The first day is a Tet for the father, the second day is the tet of the mother and the third day is the Tet  for the teacher." The father symbolizes the husband's (or dad's) extended family, the mother refers to the wife's (or mom's) extended family, and the teachers represents those who have helped us to accumulate knowledge, even just a single word.

12 - Giving lucky money

On New Year, Vietnamese people give the lucky money for children, wishing them to be happy, and perform well at school. Red envelopes also symbolize luck and wellbeing. In Chinese culture, those who are unmarried will still be considered children and allowed to receive lucky money. 

Giving lucky money

Only after Tet can we see that Tet customs are not a form and cliché, but in a broader view, they express and enhance the beauty of the soul and the beauty of the cultural origin of the Vietnamese people.

No matter how far people go, on these days, everyone tries to return to their homeland with their family. No matter how many years have passed, the Vietnamese people have not forgotten their roots, each day contributing to the construction and maintenance of their beautiful traditional culture.

By Quynh Nhi

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