Tet Nguyen Dan or the Tet Festival is the start of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam. It is one of the most important festivals in this country and marks the arrival of Spring. The Vietnamese follow the Chinese calendar – which is based on the lunar cycle. It is a religious and public holiday and celebrated across the nation.
It is celebrated on the same day as the Chinese New Year. Customs like visiting friends and family, honoring ancestors, offering New Year greetings, offering money to children and older people to bring luck and starting new ventures are all observed on this day.
Many people also choose to go on pilgrimages to temples and holy places during this time. As in most other parts of the world, this is believed to be a good time of year to start anew.
In 2015, Tet is on February 19th
In 2016, Tet is on February 9th
In 2017, Tet is on January 29th
A majority of Vietnamese go back home to celebrate this time of year with their families. Other customs include praying at the family altar and cleaning up grave sites. Every region has its own customs and ways of celebrating.
Preceding the festival, there is a festive atmosphere in the country. People go shopping, decorate their homes and also pay off debts to start the New Year on a positive note. They also buy new clothes and make traditional foods which they enjoy sharing with family. This is also a time when people stock up on supplies for the home as many stores remain shut during this period.
On New Year’s Day, children are given money in a red envelope – this is supposed to bring them good luck in the future.
Sweeping the home or any area is considered unlucky as it symbolises sweeping luck out. If there is a death in the family, people don’t visit each other until that period is over.