Fri, 02 Jan 2015. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:37
Tet Nguyen Dan is the most important and sacred event to Vietnamese people. The holiday comprises unique lifestyle as well as Vietnamese traditional customs and religions featuring profound national culture, reflecting the harmonic spirit between people and the nature. Enjoying Tet in Vietnam tour packages is not just simply understand the meaning of family reunion, but also the meaning of pilgrimage to the origin.
Literally, "Tết" means holiday, "Nguyên" means start or begining, and "Đán" means dawn. "Nguyên Đán" is the starting point of the New Year. In humanitarian meaning, Tết Nguyên Đán can be understood in English as the moment of family reunion. Traditionally, as a spiritual and sustainable practice, all Vietnamese people who are working or living far from home will come back to their hometown on the holiday to reunite, offer to the ancestors, and share their achievements with family.
Before Tet holiday, there are two important days as "Tết Táo Quân" and "Tất Niên". "Tết Táo Quân" is Kitchen God Festival which is held on the 23rd day of the 12th month in lunar calendar. As Vietnamese New Year is calculated according to Lunar Calendar, Tet comes later than Western New Year. Tet in Vietnam takes place from late January to mid-February. Tet holiday lasts within 7, 8 days of the old year, and 7 days of the new year (from 23rd day of 12th lunar month in the old year to 7th day of the 1st month in the new year).
The first three days of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year are three most important days in Tet holiday. On the first day, it is the meeting of lieges. It is the meeting of the first god of family's career, the god of the house, and the god of kitchen. The second meeting on the 2nd day of the 1st month of the New Year is the meeting of ancestors. In Vietnam culture, local people believe that on Tet holiday the soul of ancestors will come back and enjoy the holiday with family. The third meeting on the 3rd day is the meeting of family members.
Before and after Tet holiday, Vietnamese people have many traditional customs which are different in each locality. However, there are some main traditional customs across the country. First, it is Kitchen God Festival. The rite is held on the 23rd day of the last lunar month of the old year. In this day, the God of Kitchen is offered in the kitchen. After the ritual offering ends, family members start to clean and decorate their house to welcome New Year. Second, it is "Tất Niên" meal. On the 30th day afternoon of the last lunar month, each family prepares a meal to offer their ancestors.
In Vietnam tours to explore the local culture, travelers will understand the difference between Vietnamese New Year and Western one. During Tet, on ancestors' altar, Mâm Ngũ Quả (a plate of five kinds of fruits) is indispensable. In Northern Vietnam, Mâm Ngũ Quả consists of bunch of green bananas, grapefruit, oranges (or tangerines), persimmons, and kumquats, while, in the south, five fruits are coconut, custard apple, papaya, green mango, and small branches of figs or other fruits. Five kinds of fruit are the god's luck symbolizing the desire of human for completeness and affluence. Along with folk pictures of parallel sentences, fruit is a pure spiritual factor of Vietnamese people in the early days of the New Year. Northern Vietnamese people decorate their houses with peach blossom, while apricot blossom is popular in the Southern part. These two kinds of flowers symbolize spring buds blessing all families in Vietnam. In addition to peach blossom tree and apricot blossom tree, on Tet holiday in Vietnam, local people decorate their house with a kumquat tree as a symbol of abundance, good luck and happiness.
Among Vietnam holidays, Tet is the most important one, thus, Vietnamese people do not want to keep any unlucky things. Traditionally, during the ending time of the old year, each person must arrange to pay off debt, eliminate friction in the year to welcome a more harmonious new year. At the New Year’s Eve - the most sacred moment of the year, all families will condone all the bad things of the year and welcome new and lucky things of the New Year. This is an outstanding meeting moment of each family member with the house's god, ancestors, and the nature. Vietnamese people believe that human life is overlooked by the Heaven. Annually, at the New Year’s Eve, the Heaven changes it organization, thus, each family on earth will prepare an offering to the Heaven to welcome new gods with the hope of a lucky year.
Tet holiday is an occasion for people to return to their origins. Though they are working or living far from home, they will come back to reunite and enjoy the coziness with their family and relatives. Tet holiday makes people happier and more generous. If one has conflicts with others, he will forgive to hope a better New Year. Perhaps, that is the meaning of Tet in Vietnam.