What Does the Lunar New Year Mean in Vietnam? - Radical

What Does the Lunar New Year Mean in Vietnam?

Vietnamese people will ring in their lunar new year on February 19th with family gatherings and lots of food. The new year celebration is called Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet, for short and is celebrated at a different time each year based on the lunar calendar.

Lunar New Year in Vietnam

To help you get to know this important part of Vietnamese culture, here’s a list of 12 interesting facts:

1. All about family

Vietnamese celebrate Tet to welcome the new year with their family and to commemorate and honor their ancestors.

2. Much preparation needed

Tet is very important to Vietnamese religious beliefs, so they begin preparing for the festival well in advance of the actual date. This includes setting a few days aside to clean out their homes to get rid of the bad luck from the old year. They especially take time to tend to the family altar and perform many religious rituals.

3. Lunar New Year means out with the old

If Vietnamese people have any pending debts or unresolved arguments with friends or family, they will try to take care of these things before the new year begins in an effort to rid themselves of old bad luck.

4. In with the new

Everyone buys new clothes and shoes to wear on the first few days of the new year.

5. Lunar New Year has lucky colors

Vietnamese believe that red and yellow bring good fortune. These colors can be found everywhere during the Lunar New Year.

6. Firsts are important

What people do at dawn of Tet is believed to determine their fate for the entire year. This is why you would see most people smiling and on their best behavior.

7. The good times keep rolling

Often Tet is celebrated for several days. This year the holiday will last from February 19-21.

8. This Lunar New Year celebrates goats

The year 2015 is the year of the goat. According to Vietnamese beliefs, people born during goat years are believed to be hard-working and determined. They also believe that the 2015 goat year will bring tranquility and cooperation to humanity.

9. Traditional foods

Vietnamese have long traditions of eating special food for the Tet holiday. This includes Banh Chung (steamed square cake), Gio Cha (Vietnamese sausage), and Mut Tet (Tet jam). People also typically eat boiled chicken because it is a staple for ancestor altars.

10. Flowers and plants

Vietnamese use a variety of plants and flowers to decorate their homes for Tet. Three plants are especially popular for the holiday: peach flower, ochna interrima, and mariumi kumquat.

11. New year wishes

During Tet, Vietnamese often dedicate wishes to their family and friends. These include wishes like Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe (I wish you a healthy new year) and Năm mới tấn tài tấn lộc (I wish you a wealthy new year).

12. Gift giving

Giving gifts to family and friends is a long-standing Tet tradition that signifies a close relationship. Common gifts to give and receive include peach blossom branches, wine/gift baskets, red items (for good luck), and greeting cards.

How can you celebrate Lunar New Year?

Pray: As Vietnamese all over the world celebrate the Tet holiday, pray for them to hear the truth of the gospel and begin their new year with true hope in Jesus Christ.

Talk to Someone: Do you know of Vietnamese people living and working near you? Take time this week to wish them a Happy Lunar New Year and begin a conversation with them about their culture.

Harper McKay is a missionary in Malaysia who has served as a guest contributor for Radical covering missions and work among the unreached.

Less than 1% of all money given to missions goes to unreached people and places.*

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Let's change that!