The Tet Festival celebrates the beginning of the Vietnamese New Year. Formally known as Tet Nguyen Dan, this year’s festival falls on 10 February. Tet is based on the Lunar Calendar and this year is the Year of the Snake according to the Vietnamese Zodiac.
Meaning of Tet Nguyen Dan 2013
To give it its full name, Tet Nguyen Dan means “Feast of the First Morning” and is the single most important holiday within Vietnam. Essentially it celebrates the onset of spring. As Tet is aligned with the Chinese calendar, the holiday is generally celebrated on exactly the same day as the Chinese New Year. Vietnam will honour Tet with a six day public holiday running from 9 to 14 February 2013.
Special Preparations for Tet
Since the reason for celebration of Tet is to honour ones ancestors and the living family circle, the entire family often spanning several generations within one household exercises great care to prepare the home for entertaining and bringing in the new year together. Special attention is given to the preparation of the ancestral altar area of the residence. Inside and outside, the home is thoroughly cleaned with special attention focused on the cleansing of cooking utensils and food preparation areas and items. In additional to cleansing of the home, Tet is the time to become debt free and to resolve any negative relationship issues.
To assist with Tet preparations, floral market stalls appear on street corners and in everyday market areas throughout Vietnam. In addition to flowers, vendors sell bonsai, apricot and dwarf kumquat trees used to adorn both the interior and exterior of the home. These particular trees are believed to have spiritual renewal and regenerative capabilities.
Symbols Associated With Tet
Predominate colours both for dress and home decoration are red and yellow symbolizing wishes for good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. Wearing these colours at the dawn of Tet fosters a time of self-examination relative to attitudes and mannerisms one resolves to observe every day of the year. The wearing of reds, yellows and other bright shades will expel ghosts and evil spirits and foster good will between family members, neighbors, friends and business colleagues.
Special Foods for Tet
Foods such as pickled onions, boiled chicken, sausage, rice and roasted seeds and nuts must be ingested during the celebration. Particular attention is given to nuts and seeds not only for nutritional but for medicinal purposes as well. Watermelon (hat dua) seeds are believed to ward off heart disease and memory loss. Pumpkin seeds (hat bi) are eaten to prevent kidney and intestinal health issues. Sunflower (hat huong duong) seeds rank high for anti-aging and healthy cell production. Due to their high level of fibre content, cashew nuts are an ideal source for weight loss and cancer prevention.
Tet in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam’s second city, Ho Chi Minh City will celebrate the Lunar New Year with 8 spectacular firework performances. Head to one of the sites which includes the Saigon River tunnel, the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple, the Go Vap Cultural Park and the Nga Ba Giong Memorial Area. The centrepiece will be the fireworks at the Saigon River Tunnel. The spectacle will last 15 minutes at each site at midnight on 10 February.
By Julie Bowman