New Year in Vietnam is poularly known as Tet, where as the formal name for the holiday is Nguyen-dan. As we all know New Year in all the cultures across the globe hold a significant place as it stands for renewal and regeneration. In Vietnam, Tet is a very important festival not only because it stands for starting afresh but also because it offers one of the few splits in the agricultural year, as it occurs between the harvesting of the crops and the sowing of the new crops.
The people in Vietnam prepare well in advance to usher in the New Year. They clean up and paint their houses, they buy fresh flowers and a peach blossom to put in their house, polish their copper and silverware and get rid off all their debts and obligations by the New Year’s Eve . They religiously observe the ritual of offering prayers to the kitchen god tao for a week before the New Year. People in Vietnam believe that there are three gods that stand for the three legs of the cooking equipment used in the kitchen.
Another popular tradition holding an important place in New Year celebrations of Vietnam is the preparation of a special rice pudding. The rice pudding known as banh Chung or banh Tet is served at New Year. Mung beans and pork are the essential ingredients used in preparing the pudding. Traditional Vietnamese New Year foods include beef, preserved sweets, chicken, fish, oranges, coconuts, grapefruits and other seasonal fruits, especially watermelon. Watermelon is considered lucky by the people of Vietnam and that’s the reason they take this red seasonal fruit to receive their relatives.
On the midnight of the New Year, people visit pagodas to offer prayers to Buddha. After prayers, people of all ages and lifestyles go to parks to see Chinese dragon dances In the dragon dance, a team of dancers carry the image of dragon on poles. The lead dancers of the troupe lift, dip, thrust, and sweep the head which may display animated features controlled by a dancer. The dance troop mimics the supposed movements of this winged spirit in a wicked and undulating manner. Musical accompaniment is often supplied in the form of musicians with traditional drums, cymbals and gongs. Dragon Dance is often accompanied with fireworks.
The first day of the New Year begins with kids wishing grandparents, parents and relatives a New Year filled with happiness, health and prosperity. It is said that every special event should be commemorated with the ritual of gift giving. Then, how can new Year celebrations in Vietnam go without gifting. After the children wish their elders good luck, they receive a red envelope that has money inside. These are some of the customs associated with the celebrations of New Year in Vietnam.