Updated: Feb 14, 2021
Vietnam, like China, has a lunar calendar. The New Year happens on the same date. In Vietnam it is called “Tet”. It is the only traditional holiday in Vietnam and so the celebrations are long and loud!
Tet starts with New Years eve, which is quite similar to New Years eve in the west, with big parties, lots of food, followed by carousing over midnight, fireworks – the works!
The first day of Tet is a family affair, with children generally visiting their parents to pay their respects. There then follow from 3 to 9 more days of visits, covering ever more distant relatives. Traditionally in Vietnam people did not live far apart, so this was possible! For a long time Tet involved a 5 full days of public holiday, though this has been reduced in recent times.
There are of course also many traditions, which vary a little according to the region. Working people provide “li xi” (“lucky money”) in red envelopes both to children and to the elderly (to celebrate their long lives). Flowers are important, and in the south it is traditional to buy apricot blossom and little mandarin trees (peach in the north). Food is even more important, and, as in so many countries, the traditional holiday food, beloved by Vietnamese children, is quite special – square rice cake with a little pork and green bean paste inside and wrapped in banana leaves, to dip in vegetable pickle sauce. It also goes very well with cold beer!