Get set for Tet
The longest public holiday in Vietnam is the popular New Year’s celebrations of Tet – sometimes lasting up to seven days, depending on the lunar calendar. Historically, Tet was a time to remember and respect your ancestors while spending time with your family. Falling on the first day of spring meant it was also a well-earned break on the harvesting calendar too.
To celebrate Vietnamese New Year, people observe the day by preparing special foods and spring cleaning to get rid of last year’s bad luck and welcome in the new. Many customs are linked with Tet, including visiting family and friends (hence the house cleaning!), going to the temple and remembering your ancestors, and giving lucky money in red envelopes to children. But it’s not all chores and family duties, it’s a tradition to wear new clothes and shoes on the first few days of the year. Some of the traditional foods consumed at Tet include red sticky rice (xoi gac), Vietnamese sausage (gio cha), sticky rice cake (banh chung) and boiled chicken. In the major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Tet is more like NYE in Australia with firecrackers in the streets and people partying in clubs and bars.
When is it?
Tips and tricks
Tet is a little like Thanksgiving, with people travelling home to be with family for an extended holiday. Make sure you book any internal flights or transport early as domestic travel is at a peak during this busy time.
But as most Vietnamese are visiting family, accommodation is plentiful – check if your hotel is hosting any special Tet celebrations.
Note that many attractions and museums will be closed for the entire duration of the new year celebrations so head to the beach or enjoy the (relatively) quieter cities.
Restaurants and shops will also be shut during Tet, however wet markets (cho tet) will still be open selling special new year foods.
For an auspicious new year, red and yellow are considered lucky colours and you’ll see these bright hues everywhere at Tet time.
Look out for the New Year tree (cay neu) decorated with red paper – peach blossoms and cumquats are the traditional lucky blooms associated with Tet.