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             Traditional Customs in Vietnamese Tet Holiday

Tet Nguyen Dan (Feast of the First Morning of the First Day) is the traditional Tet of Vietnamese people. This is the occasion for family members and relatives to reunite and gather happily together after a busy and hard-working year. This is also the holiday for everyone relax to start a successful and happy new year. 

For all the Vietnamese people, Tet holiday is the biggest and most important festival throughout the year. Here are some important customs that you should know for Tet holiday

Kitchen God worship

Right from December 23rd (Lunar calendar), everyone all over the country will tidy up their house, their kitchen and hold a ceremony to appease the Kitchen God.

According to the tradition, people should propitiate the god off to the heaven by releasing the goldfish into the lakes or rivers in order that they will report to Jade Emperor on good deeds of the family. 

Due to traditional belief, on this day, Jade Emperor will make judgments on the family based on what the Kitchen God of that family reports.

Packing sticky rice cake (Banh Chung)

Sticky rice cake is a traditional food which is a definite requirement during Vietnamese Tet Holiday. This is considered to be a famous traditional custom of Tet in Vietnam.

Right from the 26th and 27th of the last lunar month, families usually pack and cook sticky rice cakes as offerings for their ancestors and grandparents, and as meaningful gifts to their relatives and friends.

These cakes are also the main dish served in meals during Tet. The appearance of sticky rice cakes in meals during Tet is a way to express gratitude and pay respects to ancestors, to grandparents and parents, and to those kings who built and protected this nation.

Five-fruit tray

The five-fruit tray is also one of the traditional customs during Tet Festival that plays an integral role in Vietnamese households.

A tray of five different fruits symbolizes five elements that constitute the universe:  Metal – Wood – Water – Fire – Earth. This five-fruit tray is associated with filiality and wishes for the good luck to the family in the new year.

According to each region of Vietnam, the five-fruit tray will be different. In Northern, the five-fruit tray consists of these fruits: banana, kumquat, pineapple, orange, and grapefruit while in southern, custard-apple, coconut, papaya, mango, and fig are preferred

Ancestor-reunion ritual

Another Tet custom performed by Vietnamese people is that on New Year’s Eve (30th day of the last lunar month), each family must adorn the ancestors’ altar with flowers, fruits, and food offerings in order to pay gratitude and respect to their ancestry and their origin.

After the ritual, the whole family gets together, recounting the stories and memories of the past year and planning to achieve new year’s resolutions.

Picking the first bud

Picking the budding leaves is a traditional custom of Vietnamese tet that carries the unique beauty of Vietnamese people.

On New Year’s Eve or in the early morning of the first day of Tet, many people often visit pagodas and pick the bud to wish for a lucky, smooth-going new year and profitable business. Bringing these buds home is likened to bringing luck and prosperity to the family.