The Tet festival is the most popular and most important holiday in the Vietnamese calendar. It takes place around the end of January or the beginning to the mid of February depending on the year. If you are scheduling for Vietnam travel during the Tet festival, there are certain things you should know about it. You should have an idea of what it is because if it coincides with your Vietnam travel, you’ll have an idea of what to expect and prepare accordingly. Here are five things you should know about Vietnam’s Tet festival.
1. Origin of Tet Festival
Tet is fully known as Tet Nguyen Dan which means “feast of the first-morning of the first day’’. It’s a widely and most significant public holiday in Vietnam. It celebrates the arrival of spring by the Vietnamese calendar. Originally, it was celebrated by the Vietnamese farmers as an appreciation to the gods and dating back to thousands of years. Nowadays, it’s a time used to pay respect to ancestors and spending the New Year with family members.
2. Celebration Time
Tet festival was celebrated on the 5th of February 2019 and during this time, a public holiday granted for seven days. These dates will depend on where they fall during a weekend and additional days declared to brighten the weekend. In 2020 it will be celebrated on the 25th of January while in 2021, it’ll be observed on the 12th of February.
3. How the Tet Festival is celebrated
The Tet Festival can last up to seven days and can be divided into three periods that is before the eve of New Year, New Year eve and during the New Year.
- Before the New Year’s Eve, one two weeks before the celebration, lots of activities take place such as cleaning and decoration of houses. You need to pay all your debts during this time and buy presents for relatives and new clothes. It is filled with the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking traditional foods, and house decoration and waiting for relatives to come back home.
- Offerings and prayers are made at the temples before and immediately after the Tet This is because a visit to the temple is considered auspicious. Families visit ancestral graves a week to Tet. Homes are decorated with a yellow apricot blossom known as Hoa Mai, Peach blossom as Hoa Dao, Kumquat tree and other colorful flowers.
- Plenty of food is cooked on the eve of Tet. New clothes and shoes are won especially by kids on the first days of the New Year. Friends and Families get to enjoy the traditional Tet food as the sticky rice cake known as Banh Chung.
4. Cuisines during Tet festival
Celebrating the Tet festival is always accompanied by eating, affirming the significance of cuisines in the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. There’s a traditional Vietnamese saying that denotes that you can be hungry on the other days of the year except for the three days of Tet due to the plenty mouth-watering dishes prepared on Tet for the ancestors and all family members. Here are some of the delicious cuisines you’ll find during the Tet Festival.
- Pickled Onions
Fatty and oily foods usually eaten during Tet cloys the appetite. However, pickled onions will help your digestive system to digest high protein foods easily. Tet isn’t complete without pickled onions, red distiches, and fat meat.
Other types of dishes you’ll find in other regions are boiled chickens, sticky rice, spring rolls, and sausages and so on.
- Chung Cake
Only appearing during Tet, Chung Cake is very tasty and savoury. It’s a traditional Vietnamese cake made from sticky rice, pork, and green beans. It’s wrapped on green leaves and boiled overnight.
Chung Cake symbolizes the earth as it combines the ingredients of Vietnamese agriculture. Nowadays, it can it’s eaten at all seasons, but during Tet, it still brings a good feeling to the people of Vietnam.
Jam is a snack used during Tet holiday to welcome guests. It’s made of dried fruits such as coconuts, carrots, apples, watermelon seeds, sugar mixed with sunflower seeds. It’s believed that consuming sweet things will bring good fortune during the New Year.
5. Traveling during Tet festival
Should you visit during the Tet festival in Vietnam? Probably not because it has some spoilers:
- You’ll find fully booked buses, trains, flights, and accommodations during this time due to a large number of people traveling to the countryside to meet their families. However, you can book your travel and accommodations earlier to go to Vietnam with ease.
- Banks closed over the holidays.
- Most restaurants closed. Dining at the hotel’s restaurants will serve as an option.
- A small number of tourist sites will remain open. However, museums, mausoleum, the Mekong Delta, etc. Will be closed.
- Most shops closed in the first three days, but the good news is most products will retail cheaply.
If you plan to travel to Vietnam during the Tet festival, it will help if you prepare for the trip in advance.