Tết Nguyên Đán

More commonly known as “Tet,” this event marks the New Year on the Lunar Calendar. Tet is the most sacred point of time, the passage from the old to the new year. Activities during Tet must involve happiness, joy, and good luck.  It is customary for families to prepare by cleaning and even painting their home in anticipation, settle old debts and disputes, and pledge to behave nicely and work hard in the new year.   People also traditionally buy new clothes to usher in the new year.  During Tet, it is recommended not to show anger and not to be rude to people.  Paying homage to one’s ancestors is another important component of Tet as families pray at temples, churches, and pagodas. On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance.  Adults also give fancy red envelopes to children full of “lucky money,” always in even denominations since odd numbers are considered bad luck.

When it’s time for the official start of Tet, people fill the streets in celebration of the new year and try to make as much noise as possible using anything from firecrackers drums, bells, gongs, to simple wooden instruments to ward off evil spirits.

It is also critical that the first person who visits a family’s house in the new year be someone who has enjoyed good luck during the previous year as it’s believed that his/her karma can also influence the family’s fortune in the upcoming year.

Families and friends will gather for a generous feast full of traditional Vietnamese dishes, such as mut (candied fruit), banh chung (steamed sticky rice cake with pork stuffing wrapped in banana leaves), keo dua (coconut candy), and keo me xung (peanut brittle with sesame seeds).

Happy new year in Vietnamese is CHÚC MỪNG NĂM MỚI

Tết Trung Thu

The Mid-Autumn festival is named Every year, on the mid-autumn festival, children light lanterns and participate in a procession at dawn.  Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. Lanterns represent brightness while the procession symbolizes success in school.  Other children’s activities include arts and crafts in which children make face masks and lanterns. Children also perform traditional Vietnamese dances for adults and participate in contests for prizes and scholarships.

In a Vietnamese folklore, parents were working so hard to prepare for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid-Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children.

Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and serve mooncakes and other special treats under the silvery moon. A favorite folklore is about a carp that wanted to become a dragon. The carp worked and worked and eventually transformed itself into a dragon. This is the story behind the mythical symbol, Cá hóa Rông. Parents use this story to encourage their children to work hard so that they can become whatever they want to be.