Tết , or Vietnamese New Year, 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 Vietnam Tết is a sacred festival that welcomes the arrival of Spring based on the lunar calendar. In the past, Tet provided one of very few long breaks during the agricultural year, which was held between the harvesting of the crops and the sowing of the next ones. Tết festivities last three-days with every effort to indulge in eating, drinking, enjoying friends and family, and paying homage to ancestors. The Vietnamese believe what they do on the dawn of Tết will determine their fate for the whole year therefore they often smile and behave as nicely as possible in hope for a better year.
In Vietnam, Tết plays an important role in Vietnamese’s religious beliefs and begins by people spending several days cleaning their homes, polishing every utensil, or even repainting and decorating their houses with flowers to rid the home of bad luck from the previous year. The ancestral altar is decorated with five kinds of fruits and votive papers. Celebrants wear their newest clothes and shoes on the first days of New Year and make a point of paying pending debts and resolving disputes amongst themselves.
Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese believe that the color of red and yellow will bring good fortune, which may explain why these colors can be seen everywhere during Tết celebrations with gifts shared between family members and children receiving money wrapped in red envelopes.
Even if Te’t is first of all a family celebration, there are quite a few public events as well that visitors can attend and enjoy. We spent Te’t in central Saigon, or Ho Chi Mihn city and some of the shows on display were fascinating
The Dance of the Dragon
Vietnamese dragons are symbolic creatures in the folklore and mythology of Vietnam. According to an ancient origin myth, the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon and a fairy.
To Vietnamese people, the dragon brings rain, essential for agriculture. It represents the emperor, the prosperity and power of the nation. Like the Chinese dragon, the Vietnamese dragon is the symbol of yang, representing the universe, life, existence, and growth.
There are many different ways to travel – by air, by train, by boat, by car or on foot. You can travel alone or with a companion, in a group or with children. You can bring a bag, you can carry it all on your back or you can bring a suitcase.
Our way is with companion, and as far away from backpacking, from children, from dolphine clubs as you can possibly get.