Tết 2008 in Hanoi

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February 10th 2008
Published: February 10th 2008
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Peach blossomPeach blossomPeach blossom

Hoa đào (Peach blossom) is one of the symbols of Tết in northern Vietnam. We only see these flowers in spring.
"Tết” is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It's also the most important event of the year for the Vietnamese people. Similar to Christmas and (Solar/Gregorian calendar) New Year celebrations, Tết is an occasion for family reunion and merriment after a long year of hard work. For an agrarian country like Vietnam, it is also a short rest period before the hustle and bustle of the oncoming spring harvest. Many traditional customs are still observed and practiced even today. They are a mixture of superstitious beliefs and practical wisdom, and reflect the mentality of the Vietnamese people.

Days before Tết, there is great excitement on the streets, as people run around buying things, which are necessary for Tết. Each family must buy a peach or kumquat tree. We also have to clean the house, cook special foods and buy various kinds of candy and jam to serve to people, who will visit our house in the New Year. Women prepare ”Bánh Chưng“, which is square rice cakes made of sticky rice, green bean and pork, covered by ”dong“ leaves then boiled many hours. Our family’s altar must be set up with an abundance of offerings, as our ancestors’ spirits are invited
New year propagandaNew year propagandaNew year propaganda

It means "Seasons greetings 2008".
home to celebrate this special event with us.

On the New Year’s Eve, all the family members gather and extend their best wishes to each other. We enjoy the fireworks which last 15 minutes in the various cities of Vietnam. On the first day of the New Year, it’s very quiet on the streets, as all the shops are closed, and people avoid entering the other people's homes until 12:00am. The first person who visits our house must be a reliable person to avoid any bad luck that may ensue in the New Year. Old people and children receive lucky money inside red envelopes (they are happy with the new age). There are many things we should avoid on the first days of the new year, for example, no house sweeping (our property or good luck may go away), no money borrowing, no argument (it's believed that the same may happen throughout the year) etc. We call these "superstitions" or "taboos".

The 4-day Tết festival runs from December 30 through January 3rd of the Vietnamese lunar calendar. Each lunar year is given a name of an animal in a 12-year cycle: starting from Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Cat, Dragon,
Happy New YearHappy New YearHappy New Year

"Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" (Happy New Year) words made of flowers in front of Thống Nhất park in Hanoi
Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The 2008 lunar year is the Year of the Rat (Mậu Tý) and Tết holiday runs from February 6th through 9th (Gregorian calendar).

The Vietnamese people also use the lunar calendar to choose a good day and time for the wedding ceremonies, funerals and other festivals. Even the lunar birth year of the first visitor to our house at Tết must be compatible with the house owner (for example, my father). Sometimes we invite a relative or friend whose age is compatible to my father, but this year, we decided that my father would be the first visitor. No complaint if anything (good or bad) would happen!

All in all, Tết is a time for the hard-working Vietnamese to forget - even if only momentarily - the harsh realities of life, and to give and receive joy and happiness.

I always remember the smell of fire-crackers on the New Year’s Eve when I was a little girl. Many years ago, fire-crackers were banned due to the danger. Now we enjoy the fireworks. The last few years, I always traveled abroad during Tết. I was alone in Vientiane, Bagan and
Candy and jamCandy and jamCandy and jam

Lots of candies and jams for Tết. The small seeds "Hạt bí" are the seeds of pumpkin. They were dried and fried on the hot pan.
New Delhi on the last New Year's Eves, but for this Tết 2008, I decided to stay in Hanoi and celebrated the New Year with my family. It's cold here in Hanoi, 10-15°C, but it's still warmer than the week before Tết (even 7°C in Hanoi). We are now experiencing the coldest time during the last 10 years. Fortunately, we can still see peach blossoms in the parks and gardens.

Please view my photos taken during Tết 2008 in Hanoi, with peach blossoms, kumquat trees, new year propaganda, traditional paintings, flags, banners, food and food and even more food.

Other blogs about Tết:

2009 - the Year of the Buffalo
Tết 2009 in Huế city
New Year's activities during Tết 2009
2010 - the Year of the Tiger
Hội An - Tết 2011 (the Year of the Cat)

Nha Trang - Tết 2012 (the Year of the Dragon)

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 24


Children and TếtChildren and Tết
Children and Tết

A painting at the Trade Fair in Hanoi.
Too much food during TếtToo much food during Tết
Too much food during Tết

Let's sit down and enjoy the new year party at my house on the 3rd day of Tết. All these foods are traditional during Tết: Bánh chưng (rice cake), Nem (spring rolls), chicken, pork, vegetable, Canh măng (soup made of bamboo and pork), Canh mọc (soup made of eggs, pork and mushroom) and fish sauce. We also have seafood like shrimp and fish.
New year propagandaNew year propaganda
New year propaganda

It means "the Year of the Rat 2008 - Vietnam is changing"
The wedding of the ratsThe wedding of the rats
The wedding of the rats

This is a famous traditional painting in Vietnam. It means the rats are always scared of the cats. Even at the wedding, the rats still have to give the offerings to a big cat. This shot was taken at the Trade Fair in Hanoi and you also see the Santa Claus.
Kumquat treeKumquat tree
Kumquat tree

Hoa đào (Peach flower) and Cây quất (Kumquat tree) are the symbol of Tết in northern Vietnam.
Phủ Tây HồPhủ Tây Hồ
Phủ Tây Hồ

Many things are sold at the shops outside the pagoda by the West Lake.
"Bánh chưng" rice cake"Bánh chưng" rice cake
"Bánh chưng" rice cake

"Bánh chưng" rice cake is a must-eat food in every family in northern Vietnam during Tết. In southern Vietnam, it's called "Bánh tét", but its shapre is round. The cake consists of sticky rice, green bean and pork, and it's covered by green leaves. Next to an opened "Bánh chưng" is a plate of salted onions.
Peach treePeach tree
Peach tree

I like the shape of this peach tree.
Lucky moneyLucky money
Lucky money

On the first day of the New Year at work, I received Lì xì (Lucky Money) inside the red envelopes from some Vietnamese guys at my office and a lovely Japanese Gift from my Japanese boss Yamazaki san.
Money donationMoney donation
Money donation

Money are donated to the pagoda at Phủ Tây Hồ and put on the leaves of this tree, next to a bronze bell.
Incense sticksIncense sticks
Incense sticks

Incense sticks and offerings are sold at the shops outside the pagoda by the West Lake.
Fried Bánh chưngFried Bánh chưng
Fried Bánh chưng

"Bánh chưng" rice cake is most delicious, when it's fried and you eat it with "Xì dầu" (soya sauce). If you've ever eaten fried sticky rice, you will know how delicious a fried "Bánh chưng" is.
The offerings at pagodaThe offerings at pagoda
The offerings at pagoda

These cakes are sold outside Phủ Tây Hồ which is the pagoda by the West Lake in Hanoi. They could be used as one of the offerings.
Peach treesPeach trees
Peach trees

Many peach trees at the garden near Hồ Chí Minh mausoleum in Hanoi.
Flowers and lucky branchesFlowers and lucky branches
Flowers and lucky branches

They are the offerings, and after praying, you can bring home those Cành lộc (lucky branches).

Spring rolls, pickled kohlrabi and carrot, vegetable and sauce.

10th February 2008

Great info
This was great info about the Tet. I hope you had a good time celebratig it. I do wonder what is the difference between Tet and Chinese New Year?
10th February 2008

Tet and Chinese New Year
Thanks Jan for an interesting question. As the Chinese ruled Vietnam for 1,000 years, our culture in many aspects was influenced by the Chinese. Both Vietnamese and Chinese celebrated the lunar new year. However, our Tet is still based on our own lunar calendar. Most of the years, our Tet and Chinese new year are celebrated at the same time, but last year 2007, our Tet was one day earlier than the Chinese new year. As I am responding to you, Vietnam Television is announcing about some traditional customs and festivals in Hanoi and other provinces. There are many festivals in January and February (I mean the Lunar Calendar).
12th February 2008

Thanks for all the photos of Tet in the North, especially the hoa ào... M×i nm hoa ào nß L¡i th¥y ông Ó già Bày mñc tàu gi¥y Ï Bên phÑ ông ng°Ýi qua... I was wondering if this kind of "caligraphy artists" still exist in Ha Noi during Tet?
13th February 2008

Anh Sunrise, this Tet was too cold in Hanoi, so "Ong do gia" (as you called "old caligraphy artists") couldn't wear an Ao Dai and sit by some street. Last month, when we had a photo exhibition "Hanoi in the old days and today", I saw some "Ong do gia". We always show our respect to them.
7th April 2008

Wonderful memory I had about Tet in VN , I really miss it. We used to cook banh chung in a big aluminum vat which took about 10-12 hours ( in the US, we used a pressure cooker which cooks in about 2-3 hours, just not the same!). The atmosphere was just magical, esp. during the days before Tet. I will have to make a trip 1 year back to VN just for this. Thanks for the blog.
28th December 2009

Thanks for the wonder artical. You wrote about Vietnamese Tet very carefully, but just only in Hanoi, why don't you try to introduce more about Tet in HCMC. I think it would be more exciting. Anyway, thanks a lot, you make me love my country much more than I were.
29th December 2009

Reply to Sam
I live my entire life in Hanoi, so I know it well. But now I often choose to travel abroad during Tet, as it's my longest holiday (9 days). The only thing about Tet in HCMC (Saigon) that I know is that there is flower decoration in the city's center (Nguyen Hue boulevard). I heard many people in HCMC also travel during Tet, so it may be different with most Hanoians, who love to stay at home, visit relatives, enjoy food and drinks.
11th November 2015

Ambassador of Vietnam !
After reading your last few blogs I feel that you are good ambassador of Vietnam. The blogs are full of facts of Vietnam culture,customs and traditions.Besides the lovely photos. Wow !

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