Chuc Mung Nam Moi!! Or Happy Vietnamese New Year!
Vietnamese New Year, or Tết as it is known, falls on February 19th in 2015 and what better way to celebrate than with an Ultimate Vietnam trip?!
Tết is kind of like Christmas and New Year rolled into one. Vietnam starts preparing for Tết weeks before the actual celebration – they buy gifts, clear debts, visit loved ones and prepare amazing food for the New Year celebrations.
Held on the same day as Chinese New Year, Tết shares similar traditions to its Chinese counterparts. During the celebrations, family and friends exchange red envelopes filled with monetary gifts. The numbers 6 and 8 hold a special place in Tet celebrations too so you might see people exchanging gifts of $6 rather than $10! There are parades and street parties as the country bursts to life!
Tết is an amazing celebration that gives you an insight into Vietnamese culture. While Vietnam, particularly its major cities, have all the hallmarks of Asian growth – Tết gives people a chance to celebrate their history and plan for the future.
One of the most interesting traditions is the Leaving of the Kitchen God. Vietnamese people believe that at the end of the year, the Kitchen God leaves their homes to report on their family to the Jade Emperor. Sacrifices are made to impress the Kitchen God as people burn gold leaf in their homes.
The Kitchen God needs transport for his journey so families buy a live carp, place it on their family altar in a bucket of water to make it easier for the Kitchen God to get to the Jade Emperor! If you see a lot of buckets filled with fish, that’s what they’re being used for!
Like a Western New Year, Vietnamese New Year comes at the stroke of midnight so expect fireworks, fire-crackers and celebrations galore! Tết is a noisy celebration so expect to stay up all night! Drums will be beaten, shouts will be raised, it is even considered good luck to make a dog bark so expect a lot of that too!
2015 will be the Year of the Goat (if you were born in 1991, you’re a goat too so have a great year!) so expect to see a tonne of parades and fireworks in celebration of the New Year with goats taking a starring role.
One of the most famous aspects of Tét is bánh tét – an amazingly tasty rice dish that is only made around the New Year parties! You’ll be able to spot (and smell) bánh tét a mile away – it is wrapped in a banana leaf and will be all over Vietnam in the lead up to New Year.
Bánh tét is pretty difficult to describe. It kind of looks like a Swiss Roll but it is made of rice with a variety of fillings. Wrapped tightly in a banana leaf, the rice sticks together so bánh tét is served in slices of deliciousness!
Watermelons are also incredibly popular thanks to the luck connected to the colour red. The redder the watermelon is in the middle, the more luck a family can expect in the New Year!
If you want to head to Vietnam to experience the culture and tradition of the country, there are few better times to head there than during Tết. Ultimate Vietnam gives you the chance to see the majority of the country and offers unique experiences like spending time with hill tribes, living on the water in a traditional ‘junk’ and eating your way around an amazing country!
Travelling Vietnam during Tết is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. If you want the perfect antidote to those February blues (they’re a thing, right?) then get in touch about Ultimate Vietnam today!