Hanoi, 1 February 2022 (TDI): Vietnam is celebrating Tet today i.e. 1 February 2022. Vietnamese New Year or Tet as is known natively, is the most important festival and national holiday in the country.

The word ‘Tet’ itself means ‘festival‘ and is the shortened version of ‘Tết Nguyên Đán.’ Tết Nguyên Đán’ is the Sino-Vietnamese version for ‘Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’.

Tet usually falls on the first night of the new moon in the first month of the Lunar Calendar. It can appear somewhere between the last week of January and the third week of February. It signifies the first day of the new year as well as the first day of spring.

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Tet is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though as there is a one hour time difference between Vietnam and China, this can sometimes result in alternate calculations of when the new moon occurs.
Ong Tau: the god of the Hearth

In Vietnamese culture, it is believed that the god of the Hearth, Ong Tau goes to the abode of the Jade Emperor at the start of the Tet festival to give his annual report on family members.

Vietnamese people believe that Ong Tau portends good news, therefore, prior to his departure, homes are cleaned or even refurbished. It is believed that Tet is a chance to begin anew as well as to forget about the troubles of the last year.

As part of festivities, people buy new clothes aside from decorating their houses. Moreover, at this time of year people also change jobs or switch careers for better luck. Popular customs include worshipping ancestors, family reunions, wiping out debts, and giving money to kids and the elderly.

Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City (image source: VietReader)
Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City

Traditionally, people in Vietnam welcome Ong Tau on New Year’s Eve with fireworks and gongs. A famous affair to celebrate the new year is Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

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The Street attracts around one million visitors annually.

As part of the festivities, the animal of the new year will be displayed along with many flowers. This year’s animal is the Tiger.

Banh Chung

Delicacies that are considered a staple for the new year’s celebration include is Banh Chung. Banh Chung is made of meat or beans, sweet sticky rice, and spices wrapped in a leaf that are boiled for half a day.

Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake Banh Chung

The fable about the Banh Chung is that it was invented approximately two thousand years ago by a prince in the Hung dynasty. The king was so impressed by the unpretentiousness and simplicity of the gift that he nominated the prince as his successor.

During the festivities, the cities of Vietnam become less busy as people return to their hometowns for celebrating the occasion with friends and family.

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