Traditions of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year (Part 2)

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Tet holiday
Tet holiday

Vietnamese New Year is the most important Festival of the Vietnamese people. When Spring arrives, all Vietnamese are thrilled by the advent of Tet. Wherever they may be, they feel an immense nostalgia, wishing to come back to their homeland for afamily reunion and a taste of the particular flavors of the Vietnamese festivities.

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>> Traditions of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year (Part 1)

Flowers of Tet

Coming to Vietnam during the season of the Tet festival, the visitor is engulfed in an ocean of colorful flowers. Visiting flower shows, contemplating the buds and blooms, and purchasing blossoms represents one of the distinct Vietnamese cultural characteristics. The peach (in the North ) and the apricot blossoms (in the South) are symbols of the Vietnamese Tet. The warm pink of the peach could very well match the dry cold of the North, but the hot South seems to be flourishing in the riot of the yellow of the apricot. The mandarin is symbolic of good fortune; therefore people tend to choose the little plants with verdant leaves which are laden with large, orange fruit for a longer display.

Apricot blossom
Apricot blossom

Food Specialties for TET

On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, fried, boiled, or stewed dishes, meat, fish, vegetable… The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse, but the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests.

Food Specialties for TET
Food Specialties for TET

Giao Thua (New Year’s Eve )

Giao Thua is the most sacred point of time, the passage from the old to the new year. It is popularly believed that in Heaven there are twelve Highnesses in charge of monitoring and controlling the affairs on earth, each of them taking charge of one year. The giao thua is the moment of seeing off the old chieftain upon the conclusion of his term and welcoming in the new one upon his assumption of office. For this reason, every home makes offerings in the open air to pray for a good new year.

New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve

After the giao thua is the start of the New Year with many customs and practices, amusements and entertainment, all of a distinct Vietnamese folk culture. This is a holiday with a distinct traditional culture that is rich in national identity.