The celebration of Vietnamese Tet



1.       Tet- the biggest and most important festival in year

The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

Vietnam’s most important and most cherished traditional festival, Tet, is the occasion which unites the Vietnamese who devote all their creative energy and resources to prepare for it, “eat” it and go all out to enjoy the fun, food, and festivities associated with it. The word Tet is a distortion of the word Tet, meaning festival. The full name, Tet Nguyen Dan, Festival of the first morning of the year, refers to the beginning of the lunar year which falls between the winter solstice and spring equinox.

The lunar calendar is divided into twelve months of either 2( or 30 days, but every four year, in order to catch up with the solar calendar, there is a leap of 13 months. Due to Tet this discrepancy between the two calendars, Tet does not fall on the same day every year in the solar calendar.


The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

The Vietnamese twelve year cycle follows the Chinese zodiac: rat, buffalo (ox for the Chinese), tiger, cat (rabbit for the Chinese) dragon, snake, horse, goat money, rooster and pig.

Opening of hearts and minds: Tet is the sole time of the year when the usually discreet Vietnamese society opens its heart, mind and cooking skills for all to see. Embodied in both its ceremony and essence is the whole spectrum of Vietnamese mythology, the entire concept of one’s place in the family, the universe And in relation to the ancestors, mixture of  Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, the three current of religion Which have blended with The original Vietnamese animistic beliefs and ancestor worship, to form the unique religious fusion adhered to by today’s Vietnam.

2. Tet traditional customs 

 The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

Tet rites Begin a week before New Year’s Day. On the 23rd of the 12th month, a ceremony Is held at home in honor of the Tao Quan ( god of the hearth) where offerings of Fresh fruits, cooked food, paper models of a stork, a horse, a car, a pair of mandarin Boots and a ceremonial dress. It’s time for Tao Quan to return to the kingdom of heaven and present their annual report on the state of earthly matters and the Vietnamese family to the emperor of Jade before returning to earth on New Year Ever

The celebration of Vietnamese Tet


When Tao Quan takes his annual week long Journey to Heaven, the Vietnamese believe their home has been left without protection and look for ways to guard themselves against an invasion of bad spirits. The erect a Cay Neu ( signal tree) very high bamboo pole with a Khanh, a sonorous clay tablet and a piece of yellow cloth attached to the top, in front of the home. The origin of this custom are expounded in a story which goes back to the birth of the Vietnamese nation when the Vietnamese were constantly threatened by malevolent spirits. Lord Buddha took compassion on them and one day descended from Nirvana to visit them. He was immediately surrounded by all kinds of devils with whom he struck up a deal for a small piece of land in exchange for precious stones, gold and silver which he laid before them. When the devils asked him the size of the piece of land he had in mind, Buddha told them it would be as large as his gown. The devils agreed to this thinking they had struck a very good deal but when lord Buddha dropped his gown it spread as far and wide as the territory of Vietnam. The devils were furious, but the deal has been made. Lord Buddha then advised the Vietnamese: “At the end of the year, when you invite your ancestors to your home for Tet, the Devils may mingle with them. You must erect a high bamboo pole flying my emblem on a piece of cloth in front of your house to prevent the devils from coming to disturb you while you are enjoying Tet and your union with your ancestors.”


The celebration of Vietnamese Tet


The custom of erecting a Cay Neu in front of the house during Tet is still observed in parts of the countryside, But has to a great extent died out in the cities where perhaps T.V antennas serve the same purpose.

With the malevolent spirits frightened away by the Cay Neu, The Vietnamese set their mind to things material and prepare the Banh Chung, Tet’s traditional glutinous rice cakes with a stock of these and food enough to last a Week, the Vietnamese can give full heart and soul to decorating their homes In red and gold.

Another indispensable feature, even for the poorest families, is a branch of peach tree blossom during Tet in North Vietnam , Flower markets selling a wonderful array of flowers spill out into the streets of Hanoi. In southern and central Vietnam, peach blossom is replaced by Canh Mai, a branch of yellow apricot blossom.

3. Superstion and Beliefs


The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

With all these precautions Taken, the Vietnamese calmly await the arrival of spring. The first day of Tet is always reserved for the worship of ancestors who are ceremoniously welcomed back from heaven on New Year ’s Eve during the GIao Thua, the transition between the old and the new year. Elaborately prepared food offerings together with the perfume of burning sandal wood, incense await the ancestors at the altar. At the midnight on the last day Of the old Year, all human problems, earthly worries, war, revolution, political intrigue and Commercial transactions are left behind. A temporary general truce is declared between human beings and spirits

All acts performed all events whether favorable or unfavorable which take Place on the first day of Tet are believed to affect the course of one’s life for the year ahead.


The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

The first sound heard in the New Year is most important And Everyone Try to detect it besides that of the firecracker. A cock crow signals hard work and bad harvest. The lowing of buffalo heralds a year of sweat and toil and dog barking signifies a year of confidence and trust. Worst of all is the cry of an owl, a warming of coming epidemic and calamity for the whole community.
The fist visitor to the home has to be a happy man, a man of virtue. This can be arranged before Tet in a discreet manner, but those who don’t want to take any chances will leave home at midnight and return a minute later.

 Other superstitious belief hold that one should not sew as to do so would mean hardship for the whole year; so sweep the floor as this could chase away the Than Tai, the God of wealth who just may happen to be on the premises. One must absolutely not curse, get angry, use Vulgar words, or break glasses, as all these inharmonious acts attract the malediction of bad spirits.

The celebration of Vietnamese Tet

One of the most important elements in celebrating Tet, are Cau Doi (Parallel sentences written in traditional black Chinese characters on red paper. These are hung in the center of the home as a good wish for the year. In Many families, after gifts of money wrapped in red paper are exchanged, tradition requires that the father read his children’s Tu vi (horoscope) hopefully to see their future for the coming Year is an auspicious one.

On the third day of Tet, the family bids their ancestors farewell. The Fourth Day is usually the day for Khai An, opening the seal, when government offices Reopen For business. One the seventh day, the Cay Neu is taken down as Tao Quan and all the benevolent spirits have returned to earth to watch over the destiny of The human race and the Vietnamese people.

 The ceremonial Tet of flowers and special foods is Now over and Tet of fun and merrymaking begins. Fairs and festivals of all sizes take place throughout the country particularly in north Vietnam, until the end of the third month, which marks the Beginning of summer.

Source: Vietwind Travel

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