The Têt New Year in Vietnam


When learning about the culture of Vietnam, it is of great importance to pay attention to the so-called Têt Nguyen Dan, also referred to as Têt or the Lunar New Year. The full name of the celebration refers to the very first day of a new part of the year. This essay discusses traditions related to the holiday that reveal its deep cultural meaning linked with reviviscence, renewal, and the tide of life.

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From my experience, Vietnamese families consider Têt celebrations as one of the most joyful and anticipated events that enable relatives to gather together, get distracted from problems, and continue the traditions of their ancestors. Têt is celebrated in Vietnam every year, but the exact dates are calculated based on the Vietnamese lunisolar calendar, which is not the country’s official calendar. This year, the Lunar New Year will start one week before the end of January.

There are strong and respected traditions associated with celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The time of the Têt celebration is justly considered as the busiest period in Vietnam since almost any person travels to visit all friends and wish them good luck (Rodgers). Depending on the family and the situation, the celebrations can take from one to seven days, and relatives prefer to spend as much time together as possible.

In Vietnam, there is a popular tradition to reserve specific days for particular types of gatherings. The very first day of the celebration is typically spent with the closest relatives in cities or villages, whereas the next day is intended for amicable meetings and parties with friends (Rodgers). On the third day, Vietnamese citizens pay respect to their ancestors and prefer to visit their teachers or go to temples (Rodgers).

Other days may include different events, such as festivals or parades. I used to observe this tradition when living in Vietnam, which included spending the first day with my mother’s relatives. Then, I would meet with my best friends, go to temples, and also visit my father’s native city to spend time with my grandparents. This year, I am going to spend the Têt week far away from my relatives, which makes me extremely upset.

The development of healthy and trust-based relationships and respect for family values also inform multiple traditions associated with Têt. From the Vietnamese people’s perspective, things to be sorted out include interpersonal relationships, the state of mind, and obligations towards others (Dinh and Sharifian 152). With that in mind, new opportunities for conflict resolution are at the very essence of the holiday’s event schema (Dinh and Sharifian 152). For instance, meetings with friends and relatives, gift-giving, and treating guests to traditional food present customs that help to maintain and improve social relationships or initiate new encounters.

Traditional activities before and during Têt often help to strengthen links between different generations and promote family and religious values. When I was a child, my siblings and I used to receive lucky coins and other gifts from older relatives, which was a demonstration of affection and positive intentions. My family also taught me to respect religious rituals related to Têt celebrations since we used to visit the pagoda nearby to pray for good luck, happiness, and harmony in life. The traditions that my family continues to observe also include paying respect to the deceased family members by cleaning their graves and placing some flowers on them.

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Food and Family Meals

Concerning food, some Vietnamese people prefer to eat in moderation before Têt just to afford the abundance of delicious dishes and be able to wine and dine others during celebrations. A typical Vietnamese family cooks a number of delicious and high-calorie foods, including rice cakes, pork braised in coconut juice, bitter melon soup, pickled vegetables, and sweet potatoes (Dinh and Sharifian 154). From my experience, popular desserts and snacks also include candied dehydrated fruits and roasted pumpkin and watermelon seeds. The members of my family respect all traditions associated with food, and we cook the dishes listed above to have a good time and worship the previous generations.

Alimentary products play a critical part in some Têt traditions and practices believed to bring good luck. Thus, on Têt’s eve, Vietnamese families decorate their family altars with five types of fruits, each of which serves as a symbol of wishes that people would like to come true. The selection of fruits may vary depending on a specific geographic region. “Banana, pomelo, peach, mandarin, and persimmon” are typically used by Northern Vietnamese people, whereas Southerners prefer “papaya, coconut, fig, mango, and custard apple” (“The Five-Fruit Tray on Têt Holiday”).

Despite traditions, some families choose any fruits available and find immaterial values more critical than the way that the tray looks. In my family, we implement the five-fruit tray tradition every year, and my siblings are usually tasked with preparing and decorating the tray.

Têt and It’s Meaning for Vietnamese People

Hope presents one of the main themes and symbols associated with the holiday in question. For instance, Têt is conceptualized as “an event for hope” due to the widespread practices of exchanging cordial words and wishes (Dinh and Sharifian 154). People in Vietnam support the idea that the first days of the celebration set the tone for the entire year. It explains traditional activities to create good fortune, including exchanging lucky coins and demonstrating gracious living by cooking enough food (Dinh and Sharifian 154).

Religious activities are also common during Têt and help Vietnamese people to attract good luck. People in Vietnam often visit Buddhist temples to pray for themselves and the dearest ones, as temples are strongly associated with “kindness, purity, peace, and hope” (Dinh and Sharifian 154). Thus, during Lunar New Year, Vietnamese people use multiple symbols and traditions to express their hope for better days to come.

Rejuvenation and renewal are other themes that find reflection in traditions and customs related to the holiday. To begin with, Têt is widely associated with the birth and growth of flora and fauna. Because of this metaphor, bright and warm colors, such as yellow, pink, orange, red, and green, are favored when it comes to street and house decorations (Dinh and Sharifian 152). Preparations for the Têt celebration include purchasing bright flowers and fruits to decorate rooms and altars, cleaning the entire house, and repairing or replacing old and broken things (Dinh and Sharifian 152).

By engaging in these activities, people try to leave all problems in the past and start the year on a happy note. My relatives observe these traditions and promote renewal in a variety of ways, including buying and wearing new clothes and cleaning up the house together.

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To sum it up, the discussed celebration can be justly listed among the integral parts of the culture of Vietnam since it touches upon almost every aspect of everyday life. As is clear from the most popular traditions, Vietnamese people regard Têt as the celebration of renewal and revival. Also, considering my personal experience with this holiday, Têt celebrations create a unique atmosphere of family unity that encourages one to understand eternal values.

Works Cited

Dinh, Truc-Nam, and Farzad Sharifian. “Vietnamese Cultural Conceptualisations in the Locally Developed English Textbook: A Case Study of ‘Lunar New Year’/‘Tet’.” Asian Englishes, vol. 19, no. 2, 2017, pp. 148-159.

Rodgers, Greg. “What is Tet: All about Vietnamese New Year.TripSavvy, 2020. Web.

“The Five-Fruit Tray on Tet Holiday.” Halong Phoenix Cruiser, 2018. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "The Têt New Year in Vietnam." June 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Têt New Year in Vietnam." June 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Têt New Year in Vietnam'. 23 June.

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