The Unique Culture and Traditions of the TET Holiday in Vietnam
The Unique Culture and Traditions of the TET Holiday in Vietnam

The Unique Culture and Traditions of the TET Holiday in Vietnam 2023

The Unique Culture and Traditions of the TET Holiday in Vietnam 2023

Hi Freinds,

Have you ever heard of the TET holiday in Vietnam?

TET is one of the most important Vietnamese holidays celebrated annually by millions of people. The first year I was here, I almost starved to death over Tet as I was unaware the whole nation would shut down for like a week. So today, here, we will explore the unique culture and traditions associated with this special holiday. From the delicious foods to the vibrant decorations, you’ll learn why this holiday is so special!


The Significance of TET in Vietnam

TET is Vietnam’s most important holiday and marks the start of the Lunar New Year. It is celebrated in late January or early February, depending on the Lunar calendar. During the festival, families come together to exchange gifts, cook traditional dishes and make offerings to their ancestors.

TET is a special time for Vietnamese people, as it symbolizes new beginnings and a chance to thank their ancestors for their guidance and protection. People also participate in religious ceremonies and festivities such as lion dances and dragon boat races to bring them good luck for the coming year.


TET is a time of joyous celebration that brings people together from all walks of life to enjoy this cherished holiday. It’s like Christmas, but x10 and more red, and no pine trees, but little kumkawat-like trees.

It is a time for families to come together and celebrate with traditional foods, decorations, and activities during the TET Holiday. Many families decorate their homes with paper lanterns, peach blossom branches, and other festive items. Traditional dishes are also eaten during the TET holiday, including spring rolls, jellyfish salads, sticky rice cakes, and more.


In addition, families often exchange money and gifts as a sign of respect for the holiday (*The Red Envelopes, WOOT!). The traditional customs enjoyed during TET allow families to connect with each other and honor the holiday spirit.

TET also has a strong cultural significance as it is seen as a way of renewing relationships and paying respects to ancestors. This Holiday is an important part of Vietnamese culture and should be respected.

Each year is marked by a different animal, as part of the Chinese Zodiac cycle. This is the Year of the Cat, and it is a particularly special one, as it is seen as a sign of good luck, prosperity, and health. During the Tet celebrations, Vietnamese people will wear red and gold clothing to attract the good luck brought by the Cat. Many will even carry cat statues or pictures with them to represent the Year of the Cat.

For those visiting Vietnam during Tet, it’s important to plan ahead.

If you’re in a small town or travelling, it’s wise to stock up on food in advance – many places will be closed for a week or more during the festivities. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of delicious traditional Vietnamese food to be enjoyed! While Tet is a time of celebration, it’s also a time of reflection and taking a break from daily life. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a remote area during this time, take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and take in the beautiful countryside. And of course, don’t forget to stock up on snacks!


Celebrating TET: Traditions and Practices

One of the highlights of this joyful occasion is the preparation of special cakes, known as banh chung. These cakes are made of sticky rice and filled with pork, beef, or other ingredients. They wrap the cakes in banana leaves which give it a unique flavor and aroma that lingers in the air. On TET, families enjoy these traditional cakes, exchanging them with each other as a sign of appreciation and love.


Another important traditions associated with TET is the giving of lucky money. At the start of TET, adults will give children and young adults an envelope with a few coins or paper money inside. This is a symbol of good luck and prosperity and is a way to wish them luck in the coming year.

Then their is the Lion Dance! This is an important part of Vietnamese culture and tradition, and it is celebrated each year with great enthusiasm. Taking place during the Lunar New Year celebrations, the Lion Dance is commonly seen in cities and villages across Vietnam. It is believed that the Lion Dance performance helps bring good luck and fortune in the coming year.

The Lion Dance is a spectacular performance to watch, and it involves a team of performers wearing elaborate costumes and masks, which resemble a lion. The performers move in time with the music, creating a powerful and dramatic display. As the performance continues, the lion moves around the village, visiting each home and business to bring them luck and prosperity. I will try to go see some of these and get photos for you too.


Lastly, TET in Vietnam is a special time of year for celebration and reflection. During the festival, vivid red decorations can be seen adorning the streets and homes of the Vietnamese people. The color red, in particular, is deeply connected to the significance of TET in Vietnam and is seen as a symbol of life, happiness, and good luck. Red banners, flowers, and decorations bring a sense of joy to the celebration and add a splash of color to the festivities. The color red is also seen as a representation of the beginning of a new year and the abundance of possibilities that the future holds.


Final Say

All in all, the TET holiday is a time of grand celebration and joy for Vietnamese people. It symbolizes the start of a new year, bringing with it hope and optimism for what the future holds. With its exciting activities, delicious traditional foods, and colorful decorations, it’s no wonder why so many people love celebrating TET. So if you ever have the chance to experience this special holiday in Vietnam, be sure to prepare yourself for an unforgettable and exciting experience!


What do you think of TET, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration? Have you ever had the pleasure of experiencing it in Vietnam or anywhere else? How did you find the festivities? Were you able to experience the full spectrum of the day’s activities, from the loud fireworks and drums to the traditional offerings of food, drink, and good wishes? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this incredible celebration and how it impacted you. If you’ve never had the chance to take part in TET, I highly recommend it. It’s a vibrant, joyous occasion that can fill you with a sense of unity and belonging, no matter where you come from.

Cheers, and Thanks for reading!

Learn more about TET in Vietnam HERE


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Tim on a Rock
Tim on a Rock
Roaming Sparrow is a project by Tim Mack. It is a life on the road, an adventure to gain knowledge and share genuine experiences.
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