Tết Nguyên Đán, more commonly known by its shortened name Tết or "Vietnamese Lunar New Year", is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Chinese calendar, a lunisolar calendar. The name Tết Nguyên Đán is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning, derived from the Hán nôm characters .
Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It takes place from the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day. Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person's house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year's greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.
Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).


Vietnamese people usually return to their families during Tết. Some return to worship at the family altar or visit the graves of their ancestors in their homeland. They also clean the grave of their family as a sign of respect. Although Tết is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region and religion has its own customs.
Tết in the three Vietnamese regions can be divided into three periods, known as Tất Niên (Before New Year's Eve), Giao Thừa (New Year's Eve), and Tân Niên (the New Year), representing the preparation before Tết, the eve of Tết, and the days of and following Tết, respectively. All of these customs are to celebrate Tết in Vietnam.

Before New Year's Eve

This fruit basket is a decoration for the new year.

Tất Niên offering
This period begins one or two weeks before the actual celebration. The general atmosphere leading up to Tết is in the bustle of shopping, decorating the home, cooking traditional Tết food and waiting for relatives to return home. People try to pay off their debts in advance so that they can be debt-free on Tết. Parents buy new clothes for their children so that the children can wear them when Tết arrives. Because a lot of commercial activity will cease during the celebrations, people try to stock up on supplies as much as possible.
In the days leading up to Tết, the streets and markets are full of people. As the shops will be closed during Tết, everyone is busy buying food, clothes, and decorations for their house.
Vietnamese families usually have a family altar, to pay respect to their ancestors. Vietnamese families have a tray of five different fruits on their altar called "Mâm Ngũ Quả" (five fruits type). During Tết the altar is thoroughly cleaned and new offerings are placed there. Traditionally, the three kitchen guardians for each house (Ông Táo) (Kitchen God), who report to the Jade Emperor about the events in that house over the past year, return to heaven on the 23rd day of the twelfth month by lunar calendar. Their departure is marked by a modest ceremony where the family offers sacrifices for them to use on their journey.
In the days leading up to Tết, each family cooks special holiday foods such as bánh chưng and bánh dầy. Preparations for these foods are quite extensive. Family members often take turns to keep watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tết of past years.

The New Year

A child in front of a tree decorated for Tết

A red envolope.

An altar from a family in Vietnam.
The first day of Tết is reserved for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called mừng tuổi (happy new age) in the north and lì xi in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional Tết greetings before receiving the money. Since the Vietnamese believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, people never enter any house on the first day without being invited first. The act of being the first person to enter a house on Tết is called xông đất, xông nhà or đạp đất, which is one of the most important rituals during Tết. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to the family on the first day of the lunar New Year, the entire following year will also be full of blessings. Usually, a person of good temper, morality and success will be the lucky sign for the host family and be invited first into the house. However, just to be safe, the owner of the house will leave the house a few minutes before midnight and come back just as the clock strikes midnight to prevent anyone else entering the house first who might potentially bring any unfortunate events in the new year to the household.
Sweeping during Tết is taboo or xui (unlucky), since it symbolizes sweeping the luck away. It is also taboo for anyone who experienced a recent loss of a family member to visit anyone else during Tết. That is why they clean before the new year.
During subsequent days, people visit relatives and friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second day of Tết is usually reserved for friends, while the third day is for teachers, who command respect in Vietnam. Local Buddhist temples are popular spots as people like to give donations and to get their fortunes told during Tết. Children are free to spend their new money on toys or on gambling games such as bầu cua cá cọp, which can be found in the streets. Prosperous families can pay for dragon dancers to perform at their house. There are also public performances for everyone to watch.

Traditional Celebrations

Ancestors Altar or Gods Altar.
These celebrations can last from a day up to the entire week, and the New Year is filled with people in the streets trying to make as much noise as possible using firecrackers, drums, bells, gongs, and anything they can think of to ward off evil spirits. This parade will also include different masks, and dancers hidden under the guise of what is known as the Mua Lan or Lion Dancing. The Mua Lan is an animal between a lion and a dragon, and is the symbol of strength in the Vietnamese culture that is used to scare away evil spirits. After the parade, families and friends will come together to have a feast of traditional vietnamese dishes, and share the happiness and joy of the New Year with one another. This is also the time where the elders will hand out to red envelopes with money to the children for good luck in exchange for Tết greetings (below).


A decoration in honor of the year of the Dragon 2012.

New Year Decoration in Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon.

Cherry Blossom flower.

A calligraphist writing in hán tự in preparation for Tết.

Hoa mai

A calligraphist writing in hán tự in preparation for Tết, at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi (2011)
Traditionally, each family displays cây nêu, an artificial New Year Tree consisting of a bamboo pole 5 to 6 m long. The top end is usually decorated with many objects, depending on the locality, including good luck charms, origami fish, cactus branches, etc.
At Tết every house is usually decorated by hoa maiOchna integerrima (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam) or hoa đàopeach flower (in the northern part of Vietnam) or hoa ban (in mountain areas). In the north, some people (especially the elite in the past) also decorate their house with a Prunus mume tree (also called mai in Vietnamese, but referring to a totally different species from Ochna integerrima). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during Tết. Its many fruits symbolize the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year.
Vietnamese people also decorate their homes with bonsai and flower plants such as chrysanthemum (hoa cúc), marigold (vạn thọ) symbolizing longevity, mào gà in Southern Vietnam and paperwhite flower (thủy tiên), lavender (viôlét), hoa bướm in Northern Vietnam. In the past, there was a tradition that old people tried to make their paperwhite flowers blossom right the watch-night time. They also hung up Dong Ho Paintings and thu pháp (calligraphy pictures).


The traditional greetings are "chúc mừng năm mới" (Happy New Year) and "cung chúc tân xuân" (gracious wishes of the new spring). People also wish each other prosperity and luck. Common wishes for Tết include:
  • Sống lâu trăm tuổi (Long life of 100 years): used by children for elders. Traditionally, everyone is one year older on Tết, so children would wish their grandparents health and longevity in exchange for mừng tuổi or lì xì利是.
  • An khang thịnh vượng (安康興旺, Security, good health, and prosperity)
  • Vạn sự như ý (萬事如意, May myriad things go according to your will)
  • Sức khỏe dồi dào (Plenty of health)
  • Cung hỉ phát tài, from the Cantonese Gung hy fat choy (恭喜發財, Congratulations and be prosperous)
  • Tiền vô như nước (May money flow in like water): used informally


Banh Chung

People Gathering around to make these special cakes.

Banh Chung(bottom) Banh Day( top, still being prepared.

Candy like sweets.

Candy like sweets.

Sticky rice called xôi gấc.
In Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tết is to ăn Tết, literally meaning "eat Tết", showing the importance of food in its celebration. Some of the food is also eaten year-round, while other dishes are only eaten during Tết. Also, some of the food is vegetarian since it is believed to be good luck to eat vegetarian on Tết. Some traditional food on Tết are:
  • Bánh chưng and bánh dầy: essentially tightly packed sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in Dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaves. When these leaves are unavailable banana leaves can be used as a subtitute. Bánh chưng (rectangular to represent Earth) and bánh dầy (circular to represent Sky) are symbolically connected with Tết and are essential in any Tết celebration. Preparation is time-consuming, and can take days to cook. The story of their origins and their connection with Tết is often recounted to children while cooking them overnight.
  • Hạt Dưa: roasted watermelon seeds, also eaten during Tết.
  • Dưa Hành": pickled onion and pickled cabbage.
  • Củ Kiệu: pickled small leeks.
  • Mứt: These dried candied fruits are rarely eaten at any time besides Tết.
  • Cầu Dừa Đủ Xoài - In southern Vietnam, popular fruits used for offerings at the family altar in fruit arranging art are the custard-apple/sugar-apple/soursop (mãng cầu), coconut (dừa), papaya (đu đủ), and mango (xoài), since they sound like "cầu vừa đủ xài" ([We] pray for enough [money/resoures/funds/goods/ect.] to use) in the southern dialect of Vietnamese.
  • Thịt Kho Nước Dừa Meaning "Meat Stewed in Coconut Juice", it is a traditional dish of fatty pork stomach and medium boiled eggs stewed in a broth-like sauce made overnight of young coconut juice and nuoc mam. It is often eaten with pickled bean sprouts and chives, and white rice.

Games and entertainment

People enjoy games during Tết, including: bầu cua, cờ tướng, ném còn, chọi trâu, đá gà and marshmallow toss. They also participate in some competitions presenting their knowledge, strength and aestheticism, such as the bird competition and ngâm thơ competition.
The Europop song Happy New Year by Swedish band ABBA is usually played during the festival nowadays.[1]

Customs and taboos

These customs come from traditions passed from generation to generation and have become standard. Because of the idea that the beginning will affect the middle and the end of the year, Vietnamese people avoid doing bad things and try to do good things during Tết holiday.


  • One should give people lucky presents to enhance the relationship between themselves and others: new clothes, peach branches (for expelling evil), cocks/chickens (wishing for good manners), new rice (wishing for being well-fed), rice wine in a gourd (wishing for a rich and comfortable life), bánh chưng (or bánh tét) and bánh dày which symbolize sky and earth (for worshipping the ancestors), red things (red symbolizes happiness, luckiness, advantages) like watermelon, dogs (the bark – gâu gâu – sounds like the word giàu - richness in Vietnamese language), medicated oil (dầu in Vietnamese, also sounds similar to giàu).
  • One should give lucky Dong Ho Paintings such as: "Gà đàn" (wishing for having many children), or "Vinh hoa", but should not give unlucky Dong Ho paintings like "Đánh ghen" related to legal proceedings.
  • One should sprinkle lime powder around the house to expel evil.
  • One should return all things borrowed, and pay debts before Tết.


  • One shouldn't say or do bad things during New Year.
  • One shouldn't hurt or kill animals or plants but should set them free. The reason for this originates from Buddhism's causality.
  • One shouldn't sweep the house or empty out the rubbish to avoid luck and benefits going with it, especially on the first day of the new year. One shouldn't let the broom in confusion if people don't want it to be stolen.
  • One shouldn't give these presents to others: clock or watch (the recipient's time is going to pass), cats (mèo in Vietnamese language pronounced like nghèo, poverty), medicine (the receiver will get ill), cuttle fish (its ink is black, an unlucky colour), writing ink (for the same reason), scissors or knives (they bring incompatibility).
  • One shouldn't have duck meat because it brings unluckiness.
  • One shouldn't have shrimp in case one would move backwards like shrimp, in other words, one would not succeed.
  • One shouldn't let the rice-hulling mill go empty because it symbolizes failed crops.
  • One shouldn't refuse anything others give or wish you during Tết.

Calendar and zodiac differences

The Chinese calendar is based on astronomical observations and therefore dependent on what is considered the local standard time. North Vietnam switched from UTC+8 to UTC+7 on August 8, 1967, with South Vietnam doing likewise in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. As a result of the shift, North and South Vietnam celebrated Tết 1968 on different days.[2] The moving backwards of one hour had a similar effect to the 1929 Beijing time change and the effect of this change was also seen with the Winter Solstice of 1984. On Hanoi time the solstice fell on December 21, though on Beijing time the solstice fell on December 22.
As the 11th month of the Chinese calendar must contain the Winter Solstice, it is not the month from November 23, 1984 to December 21, 1984 as per the Vietnamese calendar, but rather the one from December 22, 1984 to January 20, 1985. The effect of this is that the Vietnamese New Year would fall on January 21, 1985, whereas the Chinese New Year would fall on February 20, 1985, a one-month difference. The two calendars agreed again after a leap month lasting from March 21 to April 19 was inserted into the Vietnamese calendar.
In the Vietnamese zodiac, the cat replaces the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. Thus, a child born in the Chinese year of the rabbit was also born in the Vietnamese year of the cat (mẹo/mão). The Vietnamese zodiac uses the same animals as the Chinese zodiac for the remaining 11 years, though the ox or cow of the Chinese zodiac is usually considered to be a water buffalo (sửu/trâu) in the Vietnamese zodiac.

Keo pagoda festival

Attending the three-day Legal holiday in Keo Pagoda, we can knowledge lots of normal rituals, eremite ceremonies as good as informative performances which simulate the lifestyle of inhabitants along the banks of the North Delta of the Red River.

The legend…
Come behind to the story, fable pronounced which the common fisherman in the 11th century completed note as the Buddhist priest as good as could thereby fly by the air, travel upon H2O as good as tame snakes as good as tigers. However, the holy male Duong Khong Lo( 1016-1094) cumulative his name resolutely in his country’s story books when he used his sorcery powers to heal King Le Thanh Tong( 1066-1127) of the distressing disease. Over 900 years after, residents of Vu Nhat Kibbutz, Vu Thu District, Thai Binh Province still honour the Buddhist favourite with the legal holiday as visionary as the fable it recognises.
The features
The flocks of visitors who come to declare the Autumn Legal holiday, the province’s greatest informative eventuality of the year, have no difficulty anticipating Keo Pagoda, located upon the site where the Buddhist patriarch had pagoda built in the 17th Century.
Keo pagoda is architecturally singular as good as stands during the scenic mark upon the Red River Delta. The Pagoda is home to the resources of very old corpse, from intricately engraved wooden dragons to the pick up of over 100 statues. The pagoda additionally has profitable antiques together with the span of candlesticks from the Mac Dynasty, pottery ware as good as altars from the Le Dynasty, majestic boats as good as some-more, which have been all as good recorded right away as they were during the time of the Le Trung Hung Dynasty in 16th century.
The any year legal holiday is distinguished from 13th to 15th of the ninth lunar month, 100 days after the genocide of the Buddhist patriarch Duong Khong Lo. The legal holiday facilities eremite as good as normal rituals as good as etiquette hold in jubilee of the Buddhist priest who rendered good merits to the people as good as the country. The legal holiday additionally hosts opposite normal informative activities reflecting the hold up character, which is flushed with traits of the Red River Delta’s rural culture.
Keo pagoda festival
Keo pagoda
The celebration
The pagoda’s own fabulous interest plays the poignant purpose in sketch so many visitors to Vu Nhat Village any year upon the 13th, 14th as good as 15th days of the ninth lunar month. Normally, people revisit the kibbutz to suggest request during the Keo Pagoda in apply oneself of the Buddhist monk. Similar to alternative Vietnam festivals as good as events, Keo Pagoda Legal holiday commences with the approach of palanquin to remind people of the anniversary of Khong Lo’s genocide, followed by the vessel foe as good as the good read show foe during the day. When night falls, it’s time for song as good as the wail as good as drum foe, light from the categorical tabernacle illuminates preparations for the subsequent day’s approach, prayers have been offering until midnight.
On the 14th day of the ninth lunar month, in jubilee of the bieing born anniversary of priest Khong Lo, in the sunrise, the approach rite comes after the incense-offering ritual. The carriage pulled by dual pairs of white as good as pinkish wooden horses conduct the approach, accompanied by 8 dwindle bearers as good as 42 group carrying bat though luu bo, the exemplary Vietnamese weapon. Four people wearing black compress outfits as good as white trousers, who lift the fire breathing monster in decoration of Khong Lo’s tour by vessel to the collateral of the dominion to provide King Ly Nhan Tong. Four people in the same outfit carrying the tiny gilded vessel put in the mount, depicting the duration of priest Khong Lo’s hold up when he was the fisherman. In the afternoon, during Gia Roi tabernacle, the mua ech vo( frog-catching dance) protocol pays apply oneself to the gods, whilst scent is offering to Buddha.
The legal holiday continues in to the subsequent day with serve party as good as normal games such as steep throwing, rice in progress foe as good as firecracker hurling competition. However, the many engaging opening which attracts the vast series of traveller is the vessel rowing dance upon land which is achieved by twelve people in excellent costumes, station in dual together lines similar to the approach they lay in the boat. As the single actor beats the tiny drum as good as an additional binds the wooden fish, the twelve performers “row” whilst flexing their legs as good as job out rhythmically. This opening additionally puts an finish to the three-day Keo Pagoda Festival.
It is believed which together with this suggestive legal holiday, Keo Pagoda will sojourn an engaging traveller captivate as good as the honour for Vietnamese architects, Vu Nhat villagers as good as all of Thai Binh Province – as good as the total country!

Co loa festival

Annually reason after Tet Holiday, Co Loa Legal holiday pays loyalty to King An Duong Vuong who built the Au Lac Kingdom as well as the Co Loa Bulwark to quarrel the conflict opposite enemies in III B.C.
Taking place from the 6th to the 16th day of the Lunar New Year during An Duong Vuong church in Dong Anh District, upon the hinterland of Hanoi, Co Loa Legal holiday formed upon the fable of An Duong King of Au Lac as well as his sorcery crossbow. According to the fable, Genius Kim Quy, the Golden Tortoise, gave Thuc Phan( An Duong Vuong) the sorcery crossbow that could kill tens of thousands of rivalry soldiers during the shot. However, the King’s daughter My Chau told the tip of her father’s sorcery crossbow to her father Trong Thuy, the son of insurgent Chinese ubiquitous Trieu Da, as well as thereby unwittingly enabled Trieu Da to knock out Co Loa in 208 B.C. Learned of the reason for his better, King An Duong is pronounced to have killed his daughter as well as afterwards committed suicide. Nowadays, in Co Loa bulwark, there exists most vestiges still reminding we of the episodes of the legend.

Co Loa festival
Co Loa festival
Visiting Co Loa upon the 6th of the 1st lunar month, we will have the event to take partial in Co Loa Legal holiday orderly by the twelve hamlets of the village. Thuc Phan An Duong Vuong was remembered for structure Co Loa bulwark as well as for statute Au Lac for 50 years, 3rd century B.C. Besides the rite rites in honour of King An Duong Vuong during the Upper Church, there is an commanding as well as honest way of twelve palankeens starting turn the Trong Thuy Well to the Encampment gate. Moreover, in the legal holiday, people additionally put the lot of bid in to celebrating normal activities.
On the afternoon of the 5th day of the initial lunar month, all of the 8 communes( together with Co Loa Commune as well as the substantiating family in between 7 communes) reason the scent charity rite during the community house. During Thuong Church, encampment officials as well as mandarins reason the identical rite as well as correct the King’s contributions as well as achievements. The central legal holiday day, that is upon the 6th of the initial lunar month, commences with processions of notables from surrounding villages to the King An Duong Church where the tiny stately justice containing an scent burner, the mill tablet as well as the wake oration is placed in front of the dual altars. The novel way is preceded by the dwindle that symbolizes the 5 elements( steel, timber, H2O, glow as well as earth), the low-pitched association, as well as the sacrifice. This way featuring dual sedan chairs deduction by the twelve hamlets of Co Loa Commune. One carries the tiny statue of the King, the alternative the beheaded statue of his daughter that symbolizes for her punishment. The way afterwards continues to the Trong Thuy Well as well as behind to the assorted hamlets, accompanied by firecrackers.
Preceded by the novel way is the sacrificial rite that lasts until twelve p.m. The rite takes place in the King’s honour, accompanied by normal music. Next to the rite is the way of twelve villages to take the God from the church to the community residence so that he can watch the festivities. This is the greatest way with the appearance of all the palanquins. When reaching the categorical opening, the palanquins lapse to their villages. Co Loa’s way as well as palanquin do the same rituals once some-more during the community house. The legal holiday continues until the 16th day of the initial lunar month, with dusk fireworks displays, normal games such as cock fighting, tellurian chess, yank of fight, label personification, wrestling, pitch, wire rock climbing, armed forces humanities, dwindle dancing as well as archery as well as performances of ca tru, cheo as well as tuong.
On the last day of the legal holiday, the grand farewell rite will be reason during the temple. After the rituals that have been the same as in the categorical legal holiday day, the cult list of God will be returned to the sanctuary. Local people suffer the god’s foster as well as design the year of wealth as well as insurance from the god. The suggestive legal holiday is regularly sealed with the invocation ceremony.