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Tet holiday of Vietnamese people
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tet holiday of Vietnamese people

At this time, the beginning of 2012,Vietnamese people are preparing for these Tet hoiday in 2012. Traditionally, each day of this holiday will be spent for different activities.

The first day of Tet holiday

The first day of Vietnamese lunar new year is reserved for the nuclear family, that is, the husband’s household. Immediate family members get together and celebrate with the husband’s parents. A younger brother, if the parents are not alive, will visit his older sibling. Faraway sons and daughters journey to be with their parents on this day. Children anticipate a ritual called Mung Tuoi, or the well wishing on the achievement of one more year to one’s life. With both arms folded in front of their chest in respect, they thank their grandparents for their birth and upbringing.

Reciprocally, the grandparents will impart words of advice or wisdom to their grandchildren, encouraging them to study seriously, to live in harmony with others. The promises made by the children are similar to New Year’s resolutions made during the western New Year. Adults will make silent promises to themselves to improve their lives, habits and relationships in the coming year. The children accept small gifts, usually crisp bills. Ideally, part of the gifts will be saved for future “investment,” and part spent for Tet amusements. The words on the little red envelope in which the bill may be tucked read: Respectful wishes for the New Year. When there was a king ruling Vietnam, the mandarins of the royal court formally wished the King and Queen, “Happiness as vast as the southern sea; longevity as lasting as the southern mountains.” Each trade and professional guild in Vietnam has a founder or guardian spirit and on this or one of the next several days, the craft workers will make offerings to their guild ancestor.

The family displays the offerings of food on the altar table for the first meal for the ancestors since they have returned to the world of the living. The head of the family, dressed in fresh clothes, steps respectfully in front of the family altar and presents the offerings of food, liquor, cigarettes, betel fixings, flowers and paper gold and silver. He lights three sticks of incense, kneels, joins hands in front of his chest, bows his head and prays. The names of the deceased of the family up to the fifth generation are whispered as they are invited to participate in the feast prepared for them.

After the ceremony, the entire family sits down to enjoy the meal typically consisting of steamed chicken, bamboo shoot soup, banh chung and fresh fruits. They reminisce with their ancestors.

The Vietnamese do not say “celebrate” when speaking of Tet; the words “to eat” are used as in the expression, “Will you eat Tet with your family?” or “Where will you eat Tet this year?” It does not refer to the filling of one’s stomach, although in the old days, when hunger was a constant problem, Tet time was a time of plenty during which one could eat one’s full. “To eat” here means more to be nourished by, or to partake in the mutual communion with others, a spiritual eating or being nourished.

There is a Vietnamese saying related to ancestor worship: “Trees have roots; water has a source; when drinking from the spring, one must remember the source.” Thanks are offered to those ancestors who labored long ago to dig irrigation channels and remove mountains for this generation to have an easier life. The present is only one link in the cycle of coming back to the past as one looks to the future.

The second day of Tet holiday

The second day of Tet is for visiting the wife’s family and close friends. Some shops have opened and a few lottery stands are busy selling chances to people who feel lucky. Everyone is out on the street parading around in their new clothes.

On the third day of Tet holiday

On the third day of Tet, the circle of connections becomes larger and is extended to the broader community outside the family by visits to teachers, bosses or a helpful physician. The Vietnamese visit teachers and physicians although long out of school and long cured of their illness. This may be the time to have one’s fortune told to see what the coming year will bring. These days in Vietnam, there are fortunetellers using computer software. People are also especially interested in the significance of their first dream of the new year.

The evening of the third day marks the departure of the ancestors by burning votive objects such as gold and silver, for them to take with them on their journey back to Heaven.

Now the connections to the world beyond the family can take place. The non-family member who will be the first visitor is carefully chosen. The “first footer” is an auspicious guest who is considered to be good luck for the family. The first non-family visitor to the house brings in the year’s luck. This figure’s karma will charm the household for the entire year and determine the luck of the family. It is customary to invite a respected person to visit at that time, so that this turn of luck is not left to fate. This person, whose aura is believed capable of promoting the fortune of the household in the following year, is usually someone healthy, successful and prosperous. Some Vietnamese lock their doors to all chance visitors until after the visit of the chosen “first footer.”

On the fourth day of Tet holiday

On the fourth day, banks and shops reopen. Transactions, although slower, will be conducted more cheerfully than usual. Offices open and work resumes. Careful attention is paid to the resumption of activities. The first outing is the first time in the New Year that a family leaves their home. A propitious time is chosen in advance for this outing and one sometimes asks the advice of fortunetellers.

Formerly, scholars initiated their new brushes and paper with a small ceremony with the wearing of new clothes. This also requires an auspicious hour. The theme of the proverb or poem is considered carefully and newly purchased high-grade paper was used. Today’s students are less formal in their initiation rites, but most enjoy a new pen and a fresh notebook for the New Year. Everyone determines to do what he or she can to help fate along to make the next year most successful.

In the countryside, there are rituals to enliven the land out of its winter’s rest. The Rites of Dong Tho activate the soil to bring it alive from its sacred rest. When there was a king in Vietnam, he symbolically initiated the harrowing of the first furrow of the planting season in a royal rite.

A hundred years ago, on Hang Buom Street, a ceremony was performed right after Tet called the Beating of the Spring Ox. This ceremony initiated the breaking open of the agricultural land and chased away the winter cold. A ceramic image of the ox was beaten with sticks until it broke into pieces. Everyone scramble to grab and take home a piece of the sacred ox.

On the fifteenth day of Vietnamese lunar new year

On the fifteenth day of Tet (called Ram Thang Gieng), the first full moon, there are ceremonies in Buddhist temples. This is considered the most auspicious day of the Buddhist year. “Paying homage to Buddha all year long is not as effective as praying on the 15th day of the first lunar month.” The devout flock into pagodas, their eyes stinging with the blue haze of incense. After prayers, shared blessed offerings from the temple keeper are stuffed into bags carried with them for that purpose. Over the years, this Buddhist sacred day has transformed into a holiday of other cults.

It is also called Tet Trang Nguyen or the feast of the first laureate. There is a legend associated with its beginnings: the emperor once staged a banquet on the full moon to which the most prominent scholars of the kingdom were invited. They drank exquisite liquor and each man composed a formal poem on a theme chosen by the emperor. On that day, many families celebrate Tet all over again by eating banh chung.

This is also called the Little New Year or full moon New Year and celebrated by farmers following an indigenous practice of welcoming Spring at the first full moon. Later, it became infused with Buddhist meanings.

The Vietnamese traditionally celebrated Tet from the fifteenth day of the twelfth month to the fifteenth day of the first month.

Thu nhỏ
Travel consultancy