Vietnam has many traditional celebrations, beliefs, and superstitions centered on the new year. These beliefs and superstitions are interesting because they give you an insight into this incredible country’s culture. Those who are of Vietnamese descent who follow these beliefs or have seen family members follow them deserve to know where they originate. Doing so can help increase their understanding of these concepts.
The New Year is Celebrated at Various Times
While Vietnam follows the modern Gregorian calendar for every other purpose, their traditional Tet new year is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar. While they may still have small modern celebrations on January 1, they won’t celebrate Tet until the proper time. As a result, they typically don’t hold their largest parties until late in January or even February.
Vietnamese New Year beliefs and superstitions are based on this cycle of the Lunar calendar for a variety of reasons. First of all, traditional Vietnamese beliefs have been heavily influenced by China and other countries. As China had invaded and occupied Vietnam at various points in its history, it can be sometimes hard to separate the Chinese influence from Vietnam’s traditional beliefs.
That said, Tet is celebrated in different ways than the traditional Chinese method. It is considered the first day of the year and spring. Like in China, the family is a critical aspect of Tet. People often travel hundreds of miles to spend time with their family. Typically, people must be invited to a home before attending, as Vietnamese New Year superstitions state that the first person to visit a home in the new year indicates how well it will turn out.
Family Customs During This Time
As mentioned above, the family is an important part of Tet celebrations. There is typically a family altar placed in every home during this time. Individuals will visit these altars and decorate them with various items, such as flowers, fruits, and food. These offerings are given to ancestors and other family members who have passed. It is a way of honoring the past and preparing for a better future.
Traditionally, many families clean the graves of their loved ones as a further sign of respect. In spite of the fact that the Vietnamese government had banned religion in the past, Tet is still celebrated as a national holiday. Traditional Vietnamese beliefs are usually tolerated and even encouraged by the government. As a result, many businesses give people time off during this period.
Giving Gifts is Encouraged
Vietnamese New Year traditions superstitions encourage people to give gifts during Tet. On the first day of the celebration, the nuclear family is celebrated. Children get money from their family in a red envelope. To receive the money, most children wear news clothes and give traditional greetings. During the first day, the family is very unlikely to receive other visitors.
On the second day, friends are usually invited to visit. During this time, they will sit down, talk, and give each other gifts. The types of gifts given will vary depending on the area. Money is often given in red envelopes as a sign of good luck. During this time, children often get the chance to buy toys with the money they receive from family members and friends.
The third day of the celebration is typically devoted to hosting teachers and spiritual leaders that are respected in the community. During this time, people talk about the new year and prepare for its challenges. Some families will pay for performances from dragon dances to entertain their guests. Public displays like this are also encouraged.
Traditional Food is Eaten
During the Vietnamese celebration of the new year, traditional meals are prepared. Delicious cakes known as bahn chung are prepared by the family and served at dinner. Sticky rice is also eaten during this period, as are various candied fruits and seeds. Roasted watermelon seeds, pickled leeks, pickled onions, Vietnamese fried known as mut, coconut candies, and much more are eaten throughout the celebration period.
Entertainment is Carefully Selected
While the traditional dragon dances mentioned above are one popular source of Tet entertainment, there are many games played during this period. For example, gambling games such as bau cua tom ca are often played during Tet. This game uses three dice and is considered a way to bring good luck to a family.
Other sources of entertainment include competitions based on strength and knowledge, bird games, fireworks, and watching Gap nhau cuoi nam, a comedy show, the night before celebrations begin. Enjoying entertainment during this time is considered a positive way to celebrate the new year.
This list is just a sample of the intriguing world of Vietnamese culture and the ways it celebrates various holidays. If you want to know more about Vietnamese New Year superstitions or other beliefs they hold, please check out the rest of our site for more information.