Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year (Tet) is the most important holiday of Vietnamese that is annually celebrated on 1st January of lunar calendar. In this occasion, all family members will gather, visit one another, and wish for a happy and lucky New Year. There are many interesting and special customs in Tet.

Tet Preparation

Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Tet only lasts for 3 days but it takes a long time to prepare. Tet preparation is usually started on 23th December when Vietnamese offer Tao Quan (Kitchen Gods). For Vietnamese, Tao Quan are not only kitchen gods, but also gods who record all the good and bad things of the house owner and then report to the Jade Emperor.
Annually, Tao Quan offering ceremony is held at midday or in the afternoon on 23 January lunar year. Worship items are: incenses, candles, fruits, votive papers, 2 paper hats for men and 1 for woman, three carps (real or paper carps). According to the legend, Tao Quan use carps to cross the Heaven gate to meet the Jade Emperor. Vietnamese also prepare Banh Chung - sticky rice cake or Banh Tet in the South, and hearty dishes to offer their ancestors.

House cleaning

 Since sweeping is abstinence during 3 official Tet Days. According to folk notions, sweeping in these days means sweeping luck out of the house; therefore, houses must be extremely cleaned before these days.

New clothes

Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

People tend to buy and wear new clothes in Tet holiday because they think that old and bad things in old clothes must be shaken off. Moreover, New Year with new hope and joy comes from new clothes.

Tet tree erection

 Raising Tet tree is still preserved in some rural areas; whereas, in cities, this custom has been forgotten. According to custom, Tet tree is erected to keep devils and bad things away. This tree will be decorated by some ornaments that can scare devils as: garlic, cactus, effigies and Pandan.

Old debt payment

For many Vietnamese, annual Tet holiday is a chance to pay old debts, resolve conflict of the old year for a happy and peaceful new year.

Folk games

Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

 Catch goats while blindfolded, hold martial performance, sing Hat Boi, sing Cai Luong, sing Cheo, swing, climb full of fat pole, break clay pots, take part in cockfighting; play Bai Choi, play To Tom Diem, play Co Nguoi and many other traditional folk games.

New Year wishes.

On the first morning of Luna Year, children will gather in the patriarch’s house to give best wishes to their grandparents and the elders. The old often don’t remember their birthday but they only know that they will get 1 year older at the beginning of the year.  Therefore, the first day of Lunar Year is when they receive wishes from their descendants.


People usually visit their relatives to tighten family relationship. Normally, New Year wishes are: health, fortune, luck, successful wishes. People who are unlucky in the old years will be encouraged to forget bad things and think about good things.
Besides, they also visit their neighbors and give them good wishes. This is aimed to connect people, resolve all problems of the previous year and joyfully welcome the New Year.
Finally, it’s also important to visit friends and colleagues and give them best wishes to tighten the relationship.

Lucky money

Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Adults usually put a few money in red envelops and give to children with wishes for eating much and grow up fast, which is called “li xi”. According to a Chinese fairy, red envelops with 8 coins (incarnations of 8 gods) were put in children’s pillows to prevent them from being harassing by monsters.

Votive papers

The 5th January is the water day in ancient Lunar Calendar. In this day, Vietnamese make offering ceremony to their ancestors who have spent Tet holiday with them. Moreover, they also burn votive papers because they believe that after receiving these things, their ancestors will bless them with prosper business.

Many families still preserve this custom that they cook meals and burn votive papers for the death to pray for a lucky new year. Burning votive papers based on ancestor offering custom. Votive papers often illustrate daily items, which expresses that life in another world is closed to the recent life. Therefore, on 4th and 5th of January, people hardly depart because these are bad days.

Farewell and Tet tree lowering offerings

Learning about beautiful customs of Vietnamese Lunar New Year

During Tet, Vietnamese people believe that ancestors are present in their houses, so they always burn incenses and offer meals on altars. Usually, farewell offerings are made on January 4th and Tet tree lowering offerings are made on January 7th.

Flag hanging

After Vietnam reunification day, in New Year and festivals, people are encouraged to hang national flag. In New Year, national flag, five-color flags and "Happy New Year" banners are hung in every offices, companies, schools and public places.


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