Vietnamese have many festivals in year, of which Lunar New Year Festival (Tet Nguyen dan) is the biggest festival, besides numerous other unique festivals.
Tet Nguyen dan is the biggest and most sacred festival. Tet falls on a time when the old year is over and the New Year comes by lunar calendar (from the eve of the last lunar month to the 3rd day of the first lunar month). This is also the time when the cycle of the universe finishes: winter ends and spring, the season of birth of all living things, comes. Tet is an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. It is a time when Vietnamese pay respect to ancestors and grandparents, everyone sends each other best wishes for a new year, stops thinking about unhappy things and says good things about each other.
There are various customs practiced during Tet such as ancestral worshipping, visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, wishing Tet wishes, giving lucky money to young children and old people, wishing longevity to the oldest people, opening rice paddies or opening a shop.
Tet Nguyen tieu (Tet Thuong nguyen)
Tet Nguyen tieu falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Most Vietnamese people believe that the first full moon of the New Year is the most important among all full moons throughout the year. On this day, people often go to pagodas to pray for the best things coming to every family members and their beloved friends.
Tet Thanh minh (Serene sky)
Tet Thanh Minh falls in the third lunar months. This is a good occasion for Vietnamese people to visit and tidy the burial mounds of relatives.
Tet Han Thuc (Cold goods)
Tet Han Thuc takes place on the 3rd day of the third lunar month. People make offerings of banh troi (glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with plum of brown sugar) and banh chay (glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with plum of bean paste) to worship ancestors.
Tet Doan Ngo (Killing Insects Day)
Tet Doan Ngo falls on the 5th day of the fifth lunar month. This is the middle year festival for the prevention of disease and ward off evil spirits (the day of changing weather from spring to summer, this is the time easy to get pathogen). On the day of “killing insects”, every one has to get up early, eat fermented sticky and fruits. The worshipping is held at noon, hour of Ngo.
Tet Trung Nguyen
Tet Trung Nguyen takes place on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month in pagodas and Vietnamese families. This day is held to forgive the lost souls, to fulfill filial duty, and to remember the dead. Shoes and dresses made of paper, along with votive paper, are burnt in every household. The worship of Buddha also occurs.
Tet Trung thu (Mid-Autumn Festival)
Tet Trung thu on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month is a joyful occasion for children to enjoy several activities, such as singing, lion dancing, parading with lanterns shaped as moon and stars, and eating banh nuong, banh deo (moon cakes).
Tet Ha Nguyen (New Rice Festival)
Tet Ha Nguyen takes place on the 1st day or the 15th day of the tenth lunar month. In Vietnamese rural areas, this festival is held with large scale, because this is a chance to cook new rice, first to worship ancestors and then reward effort of farmers.
Tet Tao Quan (Kitchen Gods Day)
Tet Tao Quan is on the 23rd day of the last lunar month, the day when Kitchen Gods (Tao Quan) visit to Heaven to deliver an annual report on the household’s activities to the God of Heaven.
After the Kitchen Gods go to Heaven, Vietnamese people normally tidy and decorate their houses to welcome New Year.