Tet Nguyen Dan, commonly known as with its shortened name Tet, is the most important holiday of Vietnamese marking the arrival of spring. Derived from the Han script, “Nguyen” means the beginning and “Dan” means the early morning. Therefore, the Feast of the First Morning is the meaning of the name Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet takes place in the morning of the first month to at least 3 days after based on Lunar Calendar (around late January or early February). However, to prepare for Tet thoughtful, Vietnamese usually spend about 2 weeks before it especially for a traditional custom on December 23 of the previous year, named “Ông Công Ông Táo” – Vietnamese’s kitchen Gods according to a legend of forefather.

tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year vietnam tours

What is the Meanings of Tet Holiday?

As for Vietnamese, Tet has many profoundly human culture values that they have been preserving for a thousand generations.
Tet is the expression of sympathetic relationship among human, gods, heaven and earth. Considered from the relationship between human and Nature, Tet falls on the beginning of a new harvest when the weather gets warmer and plants start budding and blossoming out after a long cold winter. As the result, people assume that Tet is the appropriate occasion to show their commemoration of the Gods like Gods of the Sun, water, earth and thunder, etc involved in a poor or good harvest. This is also a chance for them to be express their gratefulness to plants, cattle, and poultry that helped them over a year.

Tet is the Day of Reuniting Family’s Members

When Tet almost comes, wherever you are, whatever you do, people try to come back home to reunite with their family at least first 3 days of Tet, visit their relatives, reform the graves of ancestors or burn incense to the ancestral altar, etc.

reunification on tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year

Tet is to Refresh Ourselves

Tet is the first day of the year, therefore, everyone will clean their house, buy new clothes, try to pay off all debts and forget all the trouble of the past year. Everything must be done to ready for an upcoming year with good things waiting ahead.

Tet Holiday Cuisine

Banh Chung (Steamed Square Cake)

Known as one of the must-have dishes in a meal of Vietnamese in Tet, “Bánh Chưng” is made from sticky rice, mung bean, green bean and pork with many different spices and ingredients. Invested by Prince Lang Lieu of Hung King Dynasty, “Bánh Chưng” represents for the Earth with the cover of mung bean in square shape and the middle of the rice, then mixed green bean and pork. Other traditional dishes Vietnamese eat for Tet are “gio” and “cha”. “Gio” is boiled, otherwise, “cha” is deep-fried. Vietnamese usually eat them with “Banh Chung” or sticky rice.

chung cake tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year

Thit Ga (Boiled or Steamed Chicken)

Nowadays, some families has changed the cooking method of “thịt gà” by roasting or firing it. However, the most common way is still boil or steam chicken then serve it in a plate in the whole or slices. Besides, lemon leaves, salt and pepper sauce are spices that can be missed when eating this traditional dish. Some parts of chicken includes legs, heads and bones will be used to cook other food like soups.

Mut (Candied Fruits)

Not be a dish in a meal, “Mứt Tết” is a favorite kind of snack Vietnamese use to greet their guest of this special occasion. This jam can be made from various types of fruits like coconut, carrot, ginger, star fruit, pineapple or lotus seed, etc. with an eye-catching look and delicious flavor.

How Vietnamese Lunar New Year is Celebrated in Vietnam?

Before Tet Holiday

House Cleaning & Decoration

According to Vietnamese culture, luck and fortune will come to the clean, neat, and tidy houses on Tet Holiday. Therefore, it is commonly believed that the cleaner the house is, the luckier the host will be. The flower is an important decorating item of each family in Tet Holiday. According to each region in Vietnam, people will buy different flowers. Peach blossoms and kumquat trees are the popular flowers of the North. On the other hand, in the central and southern, people like using “hoa mai” – Ochoa intermarriage. Vietnamese believe that the more flowers blooms, the more prosperous their family will be.

flower on tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year

Kitchen Gods Farewell Ceremony

In some people’s opinion, the Vietnamese New Year even starts from the 23rd of December with the Kitchen Gods Farewell Ceremony. In more detail, Kitchen Gods are the ones who know everything happening in your house, and their responsibility is to report to the King of Heaven about the family’s affairs throughout the year and to wish the best things for the new year. People often release the carps to the nearby lake or river as their means of transportation.

kitchen gods tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year

New Year’s Eve Offerings

New Year’s Eve, as known as “Giao thua”, is the connection time between two years when the Vietnamese people prepare the altar and traditional dishes to worship the gods. Its meaning is to say good-bye to the previous year and welcome the next year. The offering simply includes a boiled chicken, a bowl of cooked rice, flowers (usually roses), fruits, beverage and Joss paper.

During Tet Holiday

Xong Nha (First Guest Visits your House in the First Day of the Year)

All Vietnamese believe that the first guest visiting a family will dispose of their future for the whole year. The age of visitor supposes to be appropriate with the age of host based on the Chinese zodiac. Besides, a person who are morality, good temper and success are usually more invited by the Vietnamese.

Lucky Money

In Tet Holiday, along with new clothes, Vietnamese children are very excited because they will also receive lucky money contained in small red envelopes from their elders after giving them best wishes about health. Vietnamese call this tradition “mừng tuổi” in the North and lì xì in the South.

lucky money tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year

After Tet Holiday

It is time Vietnamese people spend on vacations to pagodas or temple where colorful and exciting festivals are taken place. They also come to visit houses of neighbors and relatives to give them the best wishes for the new year.

Guidelines for Tourists When Visiting Vietnam in Tet Holiday

Tet Holiday 2019 takes place on February 5th and lasts for about 7 days. Here are some useful tips for tourists if they want to visit Vietnam in Tet Holiday.

  • Make sure your travel plans and arrangement in advance because at these days most of the transportation means do not work especially train, bus and renting services of motorbike or car, etc. However, Vietnamese do not travel much in Tet Holiday, as the result, there is no worry about booking a hotel or restaurant.
  • As for sightseeing, tourists can not visit some attractions like museums, mausoleums, indoors exhibition place and art houses since they usually open after at least first 4 days of Tet Holiday.
  • Fortunately, at that time, in some big cities like Hanoi, Saigon, the first 3 days of Tet are very quite without transportation means because of a large number of people returning to hometown to visit their family already. Therefore, this is the good chance for enjoying the peaceful landscapes.
  • Most of the stores will be closed in Tet. Otherwise, few big markets like Dong Xuan Market and Ben Thanh Market still open. Moreover, sellers will not rise the price because based on idealist conception, they want to their business be fluent in the early of the year.

Tet Holiday Dates and its Attached Zodiac Signs

Year Vietnamese Lunar New Year Date Vietnamese Zodiac Sign
2000 2000-02-05 Dragon
2001 2001-01-24 Snake
2002 2002-02-12 Horse
2003 2003-02-01 Goat
2004 2004-01-22 Monkey
2005 2005-02-09 Chicken
2006 2006-01-29 Dog
2007 2007-02-18 Pig
2008 2008-02-07 Rat
2009 2009-01-26 Buffalo
2010 2010-02-14 Tiger
2011 2011-02-03 Cat
2012 2012-01-23 Dragon
2013 2013-02-10 Snake
2014 2014-01-31 Horse
2015 2015-02-19 Goat
2016 2016-02-08 Monkey
2017 2017-01-28 Chicken
2018 2018-02-16 Dog
2019 2019-02-05 Pig
2020 2020-01-25 Rat
2021 2021-02-12 Buffalo
2022 2022-02-01 Tiger
2023 2023-01-22 Cat
2024 2024-02-10 Dragon
2025 2025-01-29 Snake
2026 2026-02-17 Horse
2027 2027-02-06 Goat
2028 2028-01-26 Monkey
2029 2029-02-13 Chicken
2030 2030-02-03 Dog