Lunar new year

Similar to its Chinese counterpart Vietnam’s colourful New Year festival is a time of parades, fireworks and family gatherings.

Tet Nguyen Dan (Festival of the First Morning of the Year), often called simply Tet, is Vietnam’s most important festival and marks the beginning of the lunar year. It is celebrated in the either January or February depending on the lunar calendar.

Tet rites begin a week before Mung Mot (the first day of the Lunar New Year). This is when the Kitchen God (Ong Tao) returns to the Kingdom of Heaven and presents his annual report on the state of earthly matters to the Jade Emperor before returning to the earth on New Year’s Eve. During his week-long journey to heaven, the Vietnamese guard themselves against bad spirits. In the countryside, you will often find a CAY NEU (signal tree), a bamboo pole with a clay tablet and a piece of yellow cloth attached, in front of the home. Another indispensable feature in the north is a branch of peach blossom or “Cay dao”. In southern and central Vietnam, “Cay mai a branch of yellow apricot blossom, is more commom. The kumquat tree is another popular decorative feature in the north. This tree is carefully selected to ensure is has both golden-organ ripe fruit and unripe green fruit, representing prosperity now (ripe fruit) and prosperity to come (green  fruitDuring

ng the holiday the family table will be laden with food. There will be plenty of “Banh Chung”, glutinous rice cakes stuffed with pork beans and onion, “Xoi “(sticky rice) with pork and pickled onions as well as a variety of “mut”, or candied sweets.

The Vietnamese traditionally lit firecrackers to scare off bad spirits. However, firecrackers had turned and cities and countryside into a battle zone, and in 1995 they were outlawed. Today, extravagant fireworks displays are organized in every major city to celebrate the start of the New Year.

Tet Rituals

The frist day of “Tet” is for the worship of ancestor, how are ceremoniously welcomed back from heaven on New Year’s Eve during the “Giao Thua”, the transition as one year passes to the next. It is also considered to be the first day of spring, which is why the festival is sometimes called “Hoi Xuan” Spring festival). Elaborately prepared food offerings, together with burning incense, await the ancestors at the altar. All events – whether favourable or unfavourable – that take place on the first day of “Tet” are belived to affect the course of one’s life for the year ahead. Homeowners will also consider carefully who should be the first person walk though their door after the New Year begins, a custom know as “Xong Nha”. It must be a person who has had a prosperous year or a person with a reputation for bringing good luck.

The Importance of Incense

Worship in pagodas in informal, as people come and go, chat with the monks, drink tea and present offerings. But nobody visits a pagoda without burning incense. On festival days, packets of joss sticks can be bought outside the pagoda building. One may burn the whole packet or small number of sticks, depending on the occasion. But the total burnt must add up to odd number – It is taboo to burn an even number of sticks.

After lighting the incense, Worshippers stand in contemplation before alter for a few moments. They then make respectful bowing movements before placing the burning sticks in a small urn filled with ash

The rising smoke from the joss sticks symbolizes communication with the other world. It allows people to maintain contact with ancestors, ask for wishes to be granted, or act as a thanksgiving to one of the many gods in the Vietnamese religious pantheon

Ancestor Worship

The Vietnamese veneration of ancestors finds its greatest expression during Tet, When the spirits of deceased family members are believed to visit the living. The ancestors are invoked with prayers, special foods, and symbolic gifts made of paper, such as false money, clothes, and even watches, Iphone,

Family Chapels or altars

Family Chapels or altars are an integral part of almost every household in the country. We display pictures of ancestors along with tablets listing their names, incense flowers, and offerings of fruit, rice, and alcohol.

Tombs of ancestor

Tombs of ancestor dotting cultivated fields are common in Vietnam. During Tet, relatives clean the tombs of our ancestors and make many offerings to ensure that the spirits of the deceased are at peace

The rest of the week will be spent visiting relatives, family friends, temples and pagodas. Children will receive “Mung Tuoi” meaning lucky money, in slim red envelopes from elders. Employees will often visit their boss, sometimes bearing lavish gifts to curry favour for the working year ahead

Traditionally, people would have stopped working for at least a week. Now in most cities many businesses only close for three days, forcing reluctant staff back to work prematurely still, during “Tet”, tourist should anticipate services to be running more sluggishly than usual if at all.