Tết Nguyên Đán or Tet is the most important, popular holiday and also festival of Vietnamese people. Tet is celebrated for the arrival of the spring. Usually Vietnamese will be allowed to have five – seven days off from work to celebrate Tet holiday.
On New Year’s Eve
Like that in the Republic of Korea or China, Tet takes place on the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar. This usually falls on late January or early February on the Gregorian calendar.
After lighting the incense on the family altar – a sign of ancestral worshiping, the whole family would gather together to enjoy the last dinner of year. The following days will be spent on visiting relatives, friends and teachers along with giving wishes and greetings such as “Chúc mừng năm mới” (Happy New Year) or “cung chúc tân xuân” (gracious wishes of the new spring) and also wishes of prosperity and luck. Children will receive red pocket from their older family members as a blessing for their new year.
Food for Tet
In Ha Noi, food is an especially important part of Tet; some dishes such as banh chung, (tightly packed sticky rice with meat and bean fillings wrapped in dong leaves) or pickled opions are strongly associated with Tet’s images and requires extensive preparations.
Hội An in central Quảng Nam province is famous with Tết cakes (those made from glutinous rice). The area is well-known for four kinds of cakes: tét, tổ, nổ, in. Tết cakes are not only for consumption but also used as presents or worship offerings. Well -prepared Tết cakes mean a Happy New Year.
Hội An cakes (bánh tổ) are preferred for its tastes. The cakes look much like a bird’s nest, wrapped in dry banana leaves with glutinous rice flour and sugar inside. Bánh nổ is a kind of cake for Tết holidays.
Bánh in or in cakes come from Hội An. In the 17th century, the cakes were made to offer to royal family during New-year days. In cakes are made unwrapped, with the best wishes printed outside. The cakes are soft, sweet and favored by many.
Huế folks like eating tét cakes with pickled vegetables. Huế cakes are not square but long and round, wrapped in banana leaves, insides are green peas and fat. Tet cakes are tied with bamboo strings, they are long and round like meat-pie rolls in the North and normally eaten with pickled vegetables.
Travel during Tet
Tet is a great time to visit Vietnam, though you may have mixed feelings about it. For example, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will be deserted during Tet, shops will be closed, but you will feel the beauty of these two cosmopolitans in very different ways.
One of the tips that you will receive is to book your transportation as soon as you can, due to the influx of migrants returning home to celebrate Tet: train and air tickets will have exceptional price hike.