Tet, the Vietnamese lunar New Year is often celebrated at the same time as the Chinese New Year. However, due to the one-hour time difference, between Beijing and Hanoi, it is celebrated at slightly different times, differentiated by an hour. The celebration of id one of the peak demonstrations of the Vietnam culture and identity that is like a combination of Christmas, Easter, St Sylvester, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day in the western nations like America.
This celebration is often accompanied with colorful festivals and rituals. The Vietnamese New Year happens during the first 10-day or the first 20 days of January or February respectively. Although Lunar New Year is celebrated across most Asian countries, each country has its own unique way of celebration, just as Vietnam does.
As part of the Vietnamese culture when celebrating Lunar New Year, they have clean and decorate their houses where children will scrub and sweep the floor. Similarly, the kitchen has to be cleaned thoroughly before the 23rd of the last month’s night. The head of the house will be responsible of cleaning the ashes and dusts from ancestral alter to get rid of any fortunes that might be associated past year. Some might paint the house and decorate it with some festival bits and pieces. Parents will buy new shoes and clothes to be worn only in the first day of the New Year and not before the New Year.
On the eve of the Vietnam Lunar New Year, people are supposed publicly to welcome Ong Tao, the Kitchen God to come back to earth after reporting to Jade Emperor. This is done through an open ceremony done on the open air. The New Year’s Eve is known as Giao Thua and it is the ‘most sacred’ throughout any year and the first guest to any house who offers greetings is very important since he will have good aura if he is successful, educated, famous and well respected, the family has fortune and luck in that year.
Another important part of the Lunar New Year celebration in Vietnam is the use of peach and apricot flowers. Vietnamese use flower blossoms and buds to symbolize a new beginning and you will notice that these flowers are highly purchased during this time i.e. the yellow apricot flowers and pink peach blossoms. There will also be the giving away of red envelopes which contain ‘lucky money’ to signify wealth and luck. Young people give older people this envelopes filled with money while the older people will advice them to live harmoniously, respect parents and advice them on schooling matters. This ritual is known as Mung Tuoi.
Finally, on the first day of the New Year, before noontime, the Vietnamese people give their offers to their ancestors. This role is done by household heads by offering a ritual of food, burn incense, cakes and fruits. This is to invite the ancestors into the family celebration and honor their ancestor’s souls as well as present the welfare of that particular family.