Tết Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year)- an unforgettable time in Vietnam

Shrine for lunar new year

Lunar New Year, or in Vietnamese “Tết Nguyên Đán” (Tết), is regarded as the most popular holiday in Vietnam. Following the lunar calendar, the preparation for Tết begins a few days before the first day of the lunar year. The celebration usually lasts around seven days and is therefore considered the longest Vietnamese festive season.

January 28, 2017 is when this year`s Tết celebration commences, the occasion to express respect in memory of the deceased and the opportunity to welcome the New Year arrival surrounded by the loved ones. When recalling the past, Tết had referred to an inevitable event as it bestowed the people upon longer breaks in the agriculture during the harvest time and sowing period.

To get rid of the bad luck which was accompanying the former year, Vietnamese set out to prepare for the celebration early enough to make sure all the cleaning and redecorating of the house is done by the beginning of the holiday. Thereby colorful flowers such as blossom, kumquat and branches of peach are meant to lend the homes a special flair. Alike other Asian cultures, Vietnamese associate the colors yellow and red to luck and good fortune and this fact explains why during the Tết celebration there may be found those two colors all over Vietnam. As people believe that the way they behave on that day will determine their fate for the upcoming year, people tend to show their best conduct and smile, hoping it will translate into a prosperous year full of luck. Comparable to Christmas, Tết entails present exchanges among relatives, where kids get “lucky” pocket money in red envelopes.

As of a Vietnamese student studying at the FHNW Olten, it was learnt that during the festive season all the stores are closed in smaller cities, while a few ones are open in bigger cities, mainly to serve tourists.  Official offices and department stores remain closed until the end of the feast. As the food is homemade over the holiday period, only fresh vegetable is needed, which is purchased beforehand.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Lunar Calendar amounts 30 day per month including a leap year, which is different to the 29th of February, embraces an entire intercalary month. This justifies the holiday date deviations.

Tết is very meaningful in Vietnam. It is when Vietnamese come home to their families, visit their relatives, and grant oneself a break after a tough and demanding year. From the perspective of an explorer, it is the opportunity to visit Vietnam and join this joyful and happy holiday to enrich one with lots of new impressions.

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