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Published: February 10th 2008
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 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 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 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)
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