How Vietnamese people celebrate tet holiday

What is tet holiday?

Tet holiday (Tết) is Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán), which is the biggest celebration in the S-shaped country. It is normally later than New Year’s Day, i.e. 1st January. Like Christmas, Tet has given families the opportunity to gather relatively after a year of hard work.

It is also the time that we summarise what we did in the previous year, and are ready for New Year’s resolutions. Importantly, Vietnamese people believe that what we do on the first day of the new year will affect our lives for the next 12 months. We therefore pay great attention to everything we say and do on that day. Beside, there are some similar beliefs that I personally found interesting to share with you as follows:

  • The first-foot will have a bearing on the family’s fortune for the coming year. We usually look for our first-foot based on that person’s zodiac sign within 12 Vietnamese Zodiac Signs.
  • Do not sweep/ vacuum the floor during the first 3 days as we believe that we could have swept away good fortune. Thus, the entire house should be cleaned before Tet. But if you have to do it, the dust and rubbish are swept from the font door inwards and placed in the corners and not taken/ thrown out until the 4th day.
  • Abstain from wearing black or white clothes during the festival as we believe that these two colours represent mourning. On Tet days, we often wear colourful clothes to wish for a lucky and a happy new year. 
  • We give “lucky money” (lì xì) in a red envelope (bao lì xì) to our family members and relative with the wishing of good health (for children) and long life(for adults).

Vietnamese Lunar New Year and Chinese new year are nOT the same

It is absolutely mistaken to say that Vietnam is celebrating Chinese New Year. Although both countries use the Moon Phrase Calendar, we have different Lunar New Year celebrations, traditions and customs from China.

The Tet holiday's essentials

Flowers and plants

We get together before Tet to decorate the house with different flowers and plants regarding regions, such as yellow apricot blossom (hoa mai), peach blossom (hoa đào) and kumquat tree (cây tắc)


Five-fruit tray

This is a tray of 5 different fruits that is used to express best wishes for the coming year. There are 3 different types of fruit trays across the country:

  • Northern Vietnam: pear, bananas, grapes/ plums, watermelon, and grapefruit/ oranges/ mandarin oranges.
  • Central Vietnam: dragon fruits, bananas, watermelon, oranges/ mandarin oranges. pineapple and soursop aka graviola (Anona muricata).
  • Southern Vietnam: soursop aka graviola (Anona muricata), coconut, papaya, mango, figs. These are for a main tray plus watermelons and pineapple.


Tet holiday is the time to eat because dozens of delicious dishes and desserts will be prepared. They are made to serve our guests during the festival. Here are some common dishes/ snack we have:

  • Dried/ candied fruits (mứt/ kẹo): candied coconut, candied lotus seeds, candied squash, candied ginger, candied peanuts.
  • Roasted seeds (hạt): roasted watermelon seeds, roasted sunflower seeds, roasted cashews.
  • Pickles (dưa món/ củ kiệu): pickled mustard greens, pickled small leeks, pickled onion.
  • Smooth sausage/ brawn (chả lụa/ giò thủ): smooth pork (and chicken) sausage, smooth cinnamon pork sausage, brawn.
  • A savory sticky rice cake stuffed with mung beans and pork (bánh chưng/ bánh tét): The cake is wrapped in phrynium (dong) leaves and bound by giang strings in the square/ cylindrical shape. The prepared cakes are then tightly placed in a large pot which is filled with water and boiled for hours until they are done. It can be eaten warm/ at room temperature or also be fried up and served in form of crisp pancakes (best served with pickles).

*The video shows you how to wrap banh chung with and without a mold

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