The Hanoitimes - Tet, or Lunar New Year, is the most important festival in Vietnam. This event is the time for family reunion, so people visit their family, prepare and enjoy holiday together.
Here are the most important things to do on Tet holiday in Vietnam
Cleaning the house
Lunar New Year is the time for new things, so Vietnamese usually spend half of the month before Tet holiday to prepare for it. Cleaning the house before Lunar New Year is one of the most important cultural features in Vietnam. House cleaning before Lunar New Year helps to organize the old year, removing old things to avoid bad luck and welcome New Year’s fortunes.
Cleaning the house.
Cleaning the house, washing mattress and pillow, trimming trees neatly, can make the house look refreshed and nice.
Accordingly, lucky fortune will visit the clean, neat and tidy houses on the first days of the year. Therefore, the owners must finish cleaning their houses at the end of the year before the 23rd of December of lunar calenda, which is the day Ong Tao (the Gods of Kitchen) go back to heaven to report to the Emperor of Heaven.
In addition, housecleaning is not only the belief but also makes the owners feel confident when welcoming relatives and friends’ visit. The guests themselves will feel more important and respected when they get invited thanks to the neat and tidy house.
Kitchen God day
Besides Lunar New Year, Tet Tao Quan on the 23rd of December (Lunar calandar) is considered one of the most essential festivals in Vietnamese religious beliefs. The meaning of Tet Tao Quan is all about preparing a grand farewell for three Deities on their journey to the Heavens, and the ceremony is held at every Vietnamese household.
Kitchen God day.
On the 23rd of December, normally, grandmothers and mothers of the family will cook a lot of delicacies such as new harvest steamed sticky rice or plain porridge. They clean and decorate the altar with fresh flowers and fruits. On the altar also laid three votive paper caps, the yellow one in the middle for Mrs. Tao and two black ones for two Mr. Tao.
Freeing the carps is also to show human’s respect and gratitude towards animal world, and wishing for the good fortune of the upcoming year. Nowadays, the image of Tao Quan is so familiar that they even appear in many plays, movies or TV shows on the occasion of Tet Festival.
Lunar New Year Eve’s ceremony
Lunar New Year’s Eve is the connection time between two years, and it’s time to prepare the altar and traditional dishes to worship the gods.
At the end of the year, the old gods give up work for the new gods at the moment of transfer between the new year and the old year. Therefore, Vietnamese people celebrate Lunar New Year’s Eve to see off the old god and welcome the new gods.
People usually prepare the feast to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the middle of the courtyard. The dishes include five-fruit tray. Each region has various ways of displaying the tray of five fruits. Recently, the meaning for the tray of five fruits has changed because this tray of fruits has less spiritual meanings and people use it mostly for spring decoration.
You can see the fireworks at many places in Vietnam. Lots of families drive their scooters to main attractions, waiting there beforehand to see the fireworks. The roads are really crowded during this time so it creates a nice atmosphere.
Being the first person to enter a house on Lunar New Year
According to Vietnamese customs, right after Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Eve, the first person who steps foot inside a house and gives nice wishes to that house’s owners is the one that practice the custom “being the first person to enter a house” in Lunar New Year.
If this person is successful, healthy and the house’s owners see his or her age fit according to the 12 animals designation rule, he or she is believed to bring many good things for the family members of the house owners. Therefore, this person is very important. The person that practices the act of being the first one to enter a house on Lunar New Year will also receive blessing for the good thing that he or she has done. For this reason, the Vietnamese often choose very carefully the first person to enter their houses in a new year.
Lucky money is, as its name, a gift from one person to another to wish he/she a Happy New Year. Lucky money is often placed in a red envelope, as red equals to “lucky” in Vietnamese culture. Usually, kids receive lots of lucky money, and they will need to say thank you and wish the giver best wishes.
Receiving lucky money.
These wishes changes based on the giver, but overall, “Health, Happiness, Luck & Prosperity” are the main components. More specifically, if grandparents give lucky money to their grandkids, the kids will give wishes for health. While kids receive money from people who are still working, they will give wishes for jobs and money instead.
Getting bless ceremony in the temples
This is the custom that cannot be missed out in Lunar New Year for the Vietnamese. There are people who have never done any ceremony at the temples, but, they definitely have to get to a temple (pagoda) or pagodas to burn incenses and offer their money for the maintenance of that temple (pagoda) and for donation purpose.
Staying in a spiritual place in the first day of Lunar New Year, people believe that their wishes can come true. A large number of Vietnamese also make their Spring trips to the famous pilgrimage sites in Vietnam. The purpose of visiting temples (pagodas) in Lunar New Year is to pray for every family to have a happy and comfortable life with more luck in a new year.