Vietnamese New Year 2019 will be on Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Vietnamese New Year or Lunar New Year is known in Vietnam as Tet Nguyen Dan, or simply Tet, the Lunar New Year is a celebration of spring and the upcoming year. The Tet holiday starts on the beginning of a new year based on the Chinese lunar calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, the Lunar New Year falls between the end of January and the middle of February. In most of Vietnam, Lunar New Year celebrations last at least three days. During this time, the Vietnamese people spend time with family and friends while reminiscing about the past year.
2019’s Zodiac Sign
According to Vietnam zodiac, Vietnamese New Year 2019 is a year of the “pig”. The Pig is the last animal sign on the Vietnamese zodiac. A Dog year always comes before a Pig year, and a Rat year always comes afterward in the next 12-year Chinese zodiac animal cycle.
Pig is mild and a lucky animal representing care-free fun, good fortune and wealth.
It is theorized that a person’s characteristics are decided by their birth year’s zodiac animal sign and element. So there are five types of Pigs, each with different characteristics:
|Type of Pig||Year of Birth||Characteristics|
|Wood Pig||1935, 1995||Good-natured, lovely, easy-going, generous, brave but irritable|
|Fire Pig||1947, 2007||Ambitious, persevering, but impatient|
|Earth Pig||1959, 2019||Communicative, popular among their friends, with a strong sense of timekeeping|
|Gold Pig||1911, 1971||Broad-minded, amicable, and willing to help others|
|Water Pig||1923, 1983||Gentle, modest, earnest, responsible, but subjective in life|
How to Celebrate Vietnamese Tet Holiday Like a Local – Vietnamese New Year Traditions
Although many of Tet’s traditions are borrowed from Chinese culture, the Vietnamese have blended the holiday into their own culture and surroundings. Aspects of the holiday such as cooking and celebrations have been altered to suit the Vietnam customs.
Visiting family and friends
On Tet holiday, families lay out a splendid feast to welcome visiting relatives and friends. Family members and friends also exchange gifts during the visit. After the guests have been feted, the family goes off to their respective places of worship (Christian or Buddhist) to pray for the year to come, or join in the many public parades celebrating the festival. The first few days of Tet are meant to be spent visiting friends and relatives. The first day is spent calling upon close friends and one’s parents. The next day, Vietnamese call on their in-laws and other friends. And on the third day, people call upon their distant relations or their teachers(Yes, teachers play very important role in Vietnamese culture due to the affection of Confucius culture). Tet officially ends on the seventh day, marked by dragon processions stalking the streets.
Paying their respects
Like the Chinese, the Vietnamese believe that Tet marks the time when the Kitchen God reports on their family to the Jade Emperor. Family members attempt to propitiate the Kitchen God by burning gold leaf paper and offering carp (live, placed in a bucket of water upon the family altar) for him to ride. Vietnamese also pay tribute to their ancestors throughout Tet. Each mid-day, for the duration of the New Year week, offerings are placed on the household altar and incense is burned in memory of the departed.
A large feast is shared among family members on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Because of this, it is necessary to purchase ingredients on the days leading up to the holiday. Many of the dishes are based on local ingredients, so traditional foods often depend on region. One of the most popular dishes enjoyed during the New Year feast is banh chung.
Banh chung is a rice cake the consists of glutinous rice, mung beans, pork, and other ingredients that depend on the area and the preferences of the chef. Banh day is also a common Tet food. Banh day is a sweet rice cake that is chewy due to its glutinous rice. The cake is wrapped in banana leaves and served in pairs. Another popular Tet celebration food, canh mang is a soup made of pickled bamboo, broth, and pork, chicken, or seafood. This tangy soup is a staple of Lunar New Year feasts throughout Vietnam. Canh măng is often paired with gio lua, a Vietnamese pork roll. Portions of gio lua are often cut into thick slices and served on plates. Before and after the feast, a few ceremonial words are spoken to honor the ancestors.
During the week before the Lunar New Year in Vietnam, the entire family works together to clean every part of the home. Exterior walls are scrubbed, floors are swept, furniture is dusted, and windows are washed. Once the home has been thoroughly cleaned, it will be decorated with various celebratory items.
Following the spring theme of the Lunar New Year celebrations, Vietnamese people will place a plant in the rooms of their homes. Some of the most common plant choices include marigolds, chrysanthemums, and bonsai trees. In central and south Vietnam, hoa mai and kumquats are placed in the central rooms of homes. In the north, a peach flower, or hoa ban, is used. At the center of the home decorations is a holiday tree made from a bamboo pole. This bamboo pole is decorated with various charms, cactus branches, and other objects. It is also a common practice for Vietnamese families to purchase new clothes to wear during the holiday and the upcoming year. While traditional garb may be worn, it has now become more common for people to buy modern clothes that can be used on a regular basis. While these practices of preparing for the New Year allow people to pay respects to ancestors, they also serve the purpose of tidying up the home when there are no other commitments.
Starting a New Business
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a time of good fortune and new beginnings. Because of this, it has become a custom of many Vietnamese people to start a new business or expand their existing enterprises. A small party will usually be held by a business person to celebrate the opening of their newest shop.
Giving Lucky Money
Similar to the tradition in China, it is a custom of parents in Vietnam to give children a small sum of money to enjoy during the beginning of the New Year. This practice encourages children to give respect to their parents throughout the New Year.
Decoration of Public Places
Private homes are not the only places that are decorated to celebrate the new year. Many businesses and public facilities are covered with artsy banners with calligraphy.
During the Vietnamese New Year, many loud celebrations are held to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune for the New Year. Throughout Vietnam, large fireworks displays are enjoyed while people wear bright festive clothing. One of the main festival activities for the Vietnamese New Year is lion dancing or Mua Lan. This consists of two dancers wearing a costume of a gold and red lion-dragon hybrid while dancing to drums and the explosions of firecrackers. Saigon is one of the most vibrant places to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Vietnam.
Vietnamese New Year Wishes
During the Vietnam New Year, it is polite to offer a greeting to friends, family members, and strangers. The traditional greeting for the holiday is ‘Cung Chuc Tan Xuan’ Or “Van Su Nhu Y”. This greeting can be used to wish a good spring to anyone that you encounter during the holiday. Another commonly used greeting is ‘Chuc mung nam moi’, or ‘Happy New Year’. This is a literal translation of the Western New Years greeting and has become more popular in recent years.
The Lunar New Year is a celebration of fortune and happiness and one of the largest holidays that the Vietnamese people recognize.
Traveling in Vietnam during Tet
However, reservations are bound to be filled up long before the actual holiday, and transportation before and after Tet is bound to be sketchy at best (everybody wants to be home for Tet!). Also, many tourist spots are closed for several days between Tet.
Do visit if you intend to stay in one place for the duration of Tet, and can commit to letting the Tet travel rush die down.
Expect prices to be jacked up to the maximum throughout the Tet holiday. Don’t take it personally – everyone else is paying up, too.