Vietnam Tet Holiday (Part 3): New Year Traditions and Customs

12 Jan, 2023 | Secrets Untold

To the Vietnamese people, the first person who enters their house on the first day of the new year is very important.

Throughout Vietnam, Tet, the Lunar New Year, is just around the corner. All the preparations are ready for the grandest national festival of the year. In this third part of the Vietnam Tet Holiday, we will take a look at traditional customs, activities as well as taboos after the first day of the year in Vietnam.

Read more articles to find out how Tet is celebrated in Vietnam with Exotic Voyages

1. Choose The First Visit of The Year Carefully

To the Vietnamese people, the first person who enters their house is very important. This visit is called “xong dat”. In Vietnamese beliefs, a person of good morality, personality, and success will bring good luck to the host family thus the house owner often carefully chooses this person. The ages of the first visitor and the house owner also matter. For example, if the head of the house was born in the year of Buffalo, the visiting person should be born in the year of snake, hen, or mouse so that good luck can be generated throughout the year.

For some families, they choose a family member whose age is in harmony with the owner's age to be the first visitor. The chosen person will leave the house before midnight and then return right after the clock strikes midnight just to make sure that there will be no unexpected and unwanted person who might bring bad luck. 

2. Prepare Lucky Red Envelopes

If you have the chance to stay in Vietnam and walk along the streets during Tet, you will not help to encounter children holding red envelopes with a smile on their faces.

This iconic envelope is actually an indispensable part of the Lunar New Year not just in Vietnam but also in China and South Korea. These envelopes are often enclosed with money and given to children and elders with best wishes and good luck. That’s why the lucky red envelopes are also known as lucky money. In Vietnam, it is called “li xi”. In recent time, although quite a few traditional customs of Tet in Vietnam has been slowly diminishing, the act of giving li xi is still well-preserved and carries the hope of Vietnamese people that future generations will be blessed with intellect, good luck, and health.

3. Giving New Year Blessings And Wishes

The first three days of Tet are the time for people to visit their families, friends, colleagues, and educators. During these visits, they often offer blessings and wishes for the New Year. These wishes often varied in the relationship between people. Here are 8 common ones:

- Chuc mung nam moi: Happy New Year

- Nam moi doi dao suc khoe: A New Year of plenty of health

- Nam moi tan tai tan loc: A New Year of Plenty of Wealth

- An khang thinh vuong: Security, good health, and prosperity

- Van su nhu y: May everything happens as you wish

- Hay an chong lon: Eat more, grow fast. This blessing is offered to children

- Song lau tram tuoi: Live long for one hundred years. This is offered to the elderly

- Tien vao nhu nuoc song Da, tien ra nho giot nhu ca phe phin. Money comes in like the flow of tiver, money comes out like coffee dripping

4. Visit Temples Or Go On A Pilgrimage

On the first morning of the year, most temples and pagodas throughout Vietnam are often very crowded as many people gather here to pray for all good things for the New Year or simply just to find tranquility. This is another tradition that doesn’t show any signs of disappearing in the Vietnamese way of celebrating Tet.

In the following days, it’s time for spring travels or du xuan. Plenty of people of all ages and various areas flock to major pilgrimage destinations. In Hanoi, many young people and families meander along the pavement of the Temple of Literature to receive calligraphy letters. On the red background of these letters, there will be a big Sino-Vietnamese character representing all kinds of good things, from health, prosperity, morality, and determination to luck, painted by some old calligraphist known as “ong do”.

In the countryside, spring festivals take place in every village and can last for as long as three months.

Read more about Tet Holiday in Vietnam:

Come to Vietnam and enjoy an authentic Tet 

To plan out your dream trip to Vietnam this winter/spring, click here. 


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