Vietnam Culture: Tet Holiday and Joyful Activities to Welcome New Year 2021

Tết, Vietnamese New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Tet Holiday, is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. The word is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán, which is Sino-Vietnamese for “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”. Tết celebrates the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar, which usually has the date falling in January or February in the Gregorian calendar.

Tet Holiday – Vietnamese New Year 2021

As the longest Vietnam holiday, Tet Vietnam is the most wonderful occasion for all foreign tourists to spend their vacation in Vietnam enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring one of the oldest festivals in the world. Tet festival 2021 is on February 12th, 2021 (New Year Eve is the previous day).

a family making chung cake for tet holiday

A family is making traditional Chung cakes on Tet holiday

A traditional Tet festival in Vietnam often lasts for a month. However, the busy life makes it shorter, even disappears. If you choose a new type of travel like cruising to enjoy multi-culture Lunar New Year, your travel plan should be picked the right countries where people still hold a long festival such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which is often a week. Recently, some people express their idea to cancel the Vietnamese New Year and only celebrate the Western New Year. Although it is constructive, Tet holiday will have still been remaining as the vital festival in Vietnam because of its priceless traditions, customs, and meaning.

tet festival in vietnam

The History of Lunar New Year in Vietnam

According to the historical document, in the thirteenth century, Vietnamese people often celebrated Tet holiday by painting on themselves, drinking traditional glutinous-rice wine, using betel nuts to welcome guests, and eating Chung cake, pickled onions. In the Ly dynasty (1009-1226), many important rituals were made on Tet festival such as setting up a dome to pray for the rains or building communal houses to crave for a year of abundant harvests. In the period of King Le Thanh Tong (1442-1497), Tet was the most important festival and hundreds of mandarins had to gather at the court to celebrate this lunar new year festival with royal families.

tet holiday in the past

The Tet Holiday’s Foods

In the Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tet also means to eat, which affirmed the important role of Vietnam Lunar New Year’s Food. One Vietnamese traditional proverb denotes that you can be hungry all year except three days of Tet festival because dozens of delicious dishes and desserts will be prepared on Lunar New Year in Vietnam to feast the ancestors as well as every family member.

tet holiday food and desserts

Chung Cake

Chung cake is the traditional cake in Vietnam that only appears on Tet holiday. Tasty and savory Chung cake is made from very familiar ingredients to all Vietnamese such as sticky rice, green beans, and pork, which is wrapped in green leaves and boiled overnight. According to a legend that has been passed on for thousands of generations, Chung cake is the symbol of Earth because it combines all unique ingredients of Vietnamese agriculture. Although nowadays Chung cake can be tasted all seasons, enjoying these cakes at Tet holiday still brings special feelings for Vietnamese people.

chung cake tet holiday vietnam lunar new year

Jam – Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Dessert

Jam is the common snack to welcome guests on Tet holiday. It is mainly made from dried fruits like carrots, coconuts, apples, or some kinds of seeds such as roasted watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds mixed with sugar. The Vietnamese believe eating sweet things on Tet holiday will bring them luck for the Lunar New Year.

jam vietnam lunar new year dessert

Pickled Onions

On Tet holiday, people often eat fat and oiled foods which easily cloys their appetite. This is high time for something with low calories and fresh like pickled onions. Pickled onions help the digestive system digest high protein food more easily. In the minds of Vietnamese people, Tet is only complete when there are fat meat, pickled onions, and red distiches.

Pickled Onions vietnamese lunar new year dishes

Besides, there is a myriad of signature dishes that inspire the taste in different regions on Vietnamese Lunar New Year such as spring rolls, boiled chickens, Vietnamese sausages, sticky rice, and so on.

Vietnamese Zodiac Signs

Each Lunar New Year will have a symbolic animal. 12 Vietnamese zodiac signs are different from Chinese ones (The fourth zodiac sign in Vietnam is Cat while it is Rabbit in China). Every animal will bring the unique lucky in its year so you can see them everywhere in Vietnam through Tet holiday decorations or advertisement signs. Tet holiday 2021 is the year of the Buffalo.

vietnamese zodiac sign tet holiday customs

Trees & Flowers on Tet Holiday

Peach and apricot blossom trees

Peach blossom in Northern Vietnam and apricot blossom trees in Southern Vietnam are also symbols that exclusively appear on Tet holiday. The light red of peach blossom will bring the luck while the yellow of apricot blossom will bring the fortune to the owners. It is said that Tet Vietnam will lose itself if missing two of them.

flower market on Vietnamese lunar new year

Neu Tree

It is originally a 5 meters tall bamboo shoot. The chop of the tree hangs different things based on each region such as votive papers, amulet exorcism, or alcohol bottle made of straw. It is believed that the appearance of Neu tree on Tet holiday in Vietnam is the signal for the devils to realize that this place is home to living people, not to harass.

neu tree vietnam lunar new year traditions

Tray of Five Fruits

This is a tray of five different fruits such as bananas, grapefruits, oranges, and other tropical fruits which are only prepared on the Vietnamese New Year. Although each region chooses different fruits, a tray of five fruits is still used to express the wishes for the Lunar New Year of the host family by their names, colors, and arrangements.

tray of five fruits tet holiday vietnam lunar new year

In addition, kumquat trees, Dong Ho paintings, red distiches are also believed by the Vietnamese to bring luck and wealth for them all around the year.

Joyful Activities in Tet 2021

Joyful activities to welcome New Year 2021

The event will bring together more than 100 ethnic people from 16 ethnic groups of 12 cities and provinces nationwide.A programme entitled ‘The Village and Colours of Flowers’ will be held from December 1 to January 3, 2021, at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism, in the Dong Mo tourism area of Son Tay Town, Hanoi.

The highlight of the programme will be a rural market which reproduce the typical shopping atmosphere in the mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Bac Kan, where market goers can not only shop for local products but can also join folk games and taste indigenous dishes of H’mong and Ha Nhi ethnic people.

The programme will also introduce visitors to the traditional Khu Su Cha Festival of Ha Nhi ethnic group in Dien Bien Province, and On Ro Po Rong Festival of Xo Dang people in Kon Tum Province, during which participants bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new year.


In Quang Binh Province, a countdown programme will take place in the evening of December 31 in Bo Trach District, featuring colourful street performances and dances

The management boards of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park will organise a ceremony to welcome the first visitors to the site in 2021, together with assorted activities to celebrate New Year 2021.

New Year 2021 will also be joyfully celebrated in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province with the organisation of a cuisine festival from December 24 – January 1, 2021, an art programme on the evening of December 31, as well as a flower festival, a photo exhibition, and exciting sporting events.

Meanwhile in Binh Thuan Province, Phan Thien City will start its New Year 2021 with a running event at 6:30 AM, January 1 at Vo Van Kiet Park, which is expected to attract nearly 2,500 runners, and a bicycle race on January 2.

Art performances and lion dances will also be held across the city on the occasion. 



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