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Dec 26, 2023 / 18:51

Lunar New Year becomes UN recognized holiday

Tet is the most magnificent occasion for Vietnamese people who treasure family reunions, worshiping ancestors, seeing friends, and wishing good luck to themselves and others.

The Lunar New Year, the most important occasion for the Vietnamese people, has been designated by the United Nations as an annual floating holiday.

The move was unanimously approved at the 78th United Nations General Assembly on December 23, officially adding the holiday to the UN’s work-off schedule.

 Visitors are eager to lanterns hung on the Tet holiday in Hoi An. Photos: Minh Nguyen/The Hanoi Times

The adoption of a resolution designating the Lunar New Year as a UN holiday followed a proposal submitted in August by 12 countries, including Vietnam. On August 10, 2023, the heads of mission of 12 countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam, sent a joint letter to the UN Committee on Conferences to add the Lunar New Year to the UN’s annual floating holidays.

As a result, the Lunar New Year is officially listed as a UN holiday in the UN Calendar of Conferences and Meetings starting in 2024.

The UN General Assembly, in its resolution, recognized the importance of the festival, which is celebrated in many UN member states. It also recommended that meetings of UN bodies at headquarters and other locations be postponed on the day of the Lunar New Year. 

An Indian family celebrates Tet 2023 in Hanoi. 

The Lunar New Year of Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet in Vietnamese, is the most magnificent celebration in Vietnamese culture. It is also a time for family reunions as people who live or work far from home or in their hometowns return home for Tet. The large Vietnamese diaspora population also celebrates the annual event as well.

The main ideas of the Tet holiday are making a fresh start, letting go of the past, and resolving debts and conflicts. Cleaning, decorating, cooking, seeing friends and family, and exchanging gifts are just a few of the hectic but exciting activities that take place during this time of year.

The inevitable food for Tet in Vietnam is “banh chung” (a traditional Vietnamese food that is made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork, and other ingredients) or “banh tet” (a Vietnamese savory but sometimes sweetened food made primarily from glutinous rice). Banh chung, one of the staples of Tet holiday cuisine, was invented over 2000 years ago during the reign of the Hung Dynasty.

During Tet, “tien mung tuoi” or “li xi” (lucky money) is given to kids in red envelopes containing cash.

On the first days of the New Year, people usually go to pagodas, historical relics, to pray for a happy year or to ask for some words in calligraphy for better academic performance, which is largely rooted in the scholastic tradition among Vietnamese people.  

Foreign visitors explore Tet in Hoi An.