Celebrate a merry new year like a local
Posted on 21 January 2019
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Vietnam like a Local
Surprisingly, the Vietnamese New Year – Tet Nguyen Dan – follows the same lunar calendar that governs Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations worldwide. Thus, on the same day, the world celebrate CNY, the people of Vietnam celebrate Tet.
The Vietnamese consider Tet to be the most important and observed event of the year. Family members gather in their hometowns, traveling from across the world to spend the Tet holidays with each other.
What’s better than to travel in Vietnam and join in the Tet fun? Here, we compiled some tips on how to celebrate Tet like a local.
1.What is Tet?
The Vietnamese believe that Tet signifies the time when the Kitchen God reports on their family to the Jade Emperor. Family members attempt to satisfy the Kitchen God by burning gold leaf paper and offering carp (live, placed in a bucket of water upon the family altar) for the Kitchen God to ride.
At stroke of midnight, Vietnamese dismissed the old year and welcome the new Kitchen God by beating drums and lighting firecrackers. The Vietnamese believe that one's luck in the entire year can be determined by auspicious and not-so-auspicious events during Tet. Thus, Vietnamese will try to balance the odds.
2.How the Vietnamese Celebrate Tet
Tet Nguyen Dan translates to "the first morning of the first day of the new year". Weeks before Tet, Vietnamese try to get eliminate "bad luck" by cleaning their homes, buying new clothes, resolving disputes, and paying their debts. Basically, replace the old with new and taking care of unresolved problems.
On Tet, family members will visit friends and relatives - they also exchange gifts during the visit. After the guests have been feted, the family goes off to their respective places of worship (Christian or Buddhist) to pray for the year to come or join in the many public parades celebrating the festival.
The first few days of Tet are reserved to be spent visiting friends and relatives. The first day is spent calling upon close friends and one's parents. The next day, Vietnamese call on their in-laws and other friends. And on the third day, people call upon their distant relations. On the seventh day marks the end of Tet celebration, marked by dragon processions stalking the streets.
3. Travelling in Vietnam During Tet
It is a great time to wander around Vietnam during Tet. You’re able to see the most vibrant celebrations, especially in the cities of Hue, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City.
However, it is advisable to stay in one place during Tet as transportation at this time are bound to be sketchy and most tourist places will be closed. Expect prices to be twice as expensive during Tet holiday. Don't take it personally, everyone else is paying more, too.
4. Visiting Hanoi During Tet
The Vietnamese capital is the best place to see traditional Tet celebrations taking place. At midnight on Tet eve, fireworks shows will go off at five key areas across Hanoi: Thong Nhat Park, Van Quan Lake, Lac Long Quan Flower Garden, My Dinh Stadium and Hoan Kiem Lake.
On the fifth day of the Lunar Month, Hanoi citizens visit Dong Da Hill southwest of the capital to celebrate Dong Da Festival, which commemorates a victory over invading Chinese forces.
On the sixth day, the costumed locals of Co Loa Citadel to Hanoi's north forms a procession similar to their ancestors did long ago, in the Co Loa Festival. Nowadays, civilians march in the parade, instead of the former military officials and government mandarins.
Finally, a calligraphy festival takes place all throughout Tet on the grounds of the Temple of Literature in old Hanoi. Calligraphers called ong do set up shop among hundred of booths to write auspicious Chinese characters for customers.
5. Visiting Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) During Tet
Witness the mass of motorcycles jamming Ho Chi Minh City which will never go away even during Tet, but parts of the city explode colourfully during the week-long festival. Fireworks shows will ignite at six areas across the city at midnight: Thu Thiem Tunnel between districts 1 and 2, Dam Sen Park in District 11, Cu Chi Tunnels in Cu Chi District, Rung Sac Square in Can Gio District, Lang Le-Bau Co historical site in Binh Chanh District, and the Nga Ba Giong Memorial in Hoc Mon District.
In District 8, Tau Hu Canal becomes the site of a flower market, with blossoms and ornamental trees sourced from the nearby provinces of Tien Giang and Ben Tre. The market's wares vary wildly, from affordable cockscomb flowers in pots to expensive yellow apricot trees.
In District 1, a book festival takes place from the first to the fourth day of Tet along the streets of Mac Thi Buoi, Nguyen Hue and Ngo Duc Ke. Thousands of books and magazines are sold during the festival.
In District 5, Cholon, Vietnam's traditional “Chinatown”, offers a lot of color and flavor as you admire the flowers and decorations adorning the area's temples, take a chance on local, Tet only foods like banh Tet ,a cake made of steamed rice, mung-bean and pork, and Xoi, colored sticky rice cakes.
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