Tet Nguyen Dan Tet is always considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month in lunar calender, Tet’s celebration is the longest holiday which may last up to seven days. Vietnamese New Year in 2017 will last from January 25th to February 1st.
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The Major Periods in Tet
No matter where Tet is celebrated, it must be clarified from the beginning that Tet is not a day, but several days of celebration.
The general process is as follow (all dates quoted in lunar calendar):
Ong Cong, Ong Tao Day (Kitchen God day) – December 23rdWrapping Chung Cake– December 26-28thFamily Reunion and Nien– December 30thGiao Thua – New Year”s Eve: including praying sessions to God and Ancestors,XongDat(First visit to a family in the new year)First three days of the new year: visit paternal side on the first day, maternal side on the second day and teachers on the third dayVisit relatives, friends and neighbours: can take place from January 3rd – 5thHoa vang- burn the offerings near Tet”s end for ancestors: January 4thReopen Business: usually owners pick a good date that matches their ageTet Nguyen Tieu – Lantern Festival (Full moon of the 1st month): January 15thDecorations
The five-fruit Tray
The five-fruit Tray is a fruit platter with about five different fruits which are usually shown in Vietnamese Lunar New Year. One theory says that the five fruits are symbolic of the five basic elements of oriental philosophy – metal, wood, water, fire and soil. Other theories regard the tray as symbolic of the fruits of a family”s hard work throughout the past year, which are consecrated to heaven and earth and their ancestors as sign of respect and gratitude. Five-fruit tray in the North area includes pomelos, peaches, kumquats, bananas and persimmons. In southern area, five-fruit tray ornamented withwatermelons, coconuts, papayas, custard apples, mangos, and figs.
Cay Neu – The New Year Tree
Planting a New Year tree or “Cay Neu”is also a Vietnamese custom which is part of the springtime Tet Festival. This is a bamboo tree with 5 or 6 meters height. “Cay Neu”are decorations similar to Christmas tree that is displayed in various cultures. Bows, arrows, bells and gongs are hung on the treetop with the hope that all the bad luck of the past year will be chased away and everyone will have a happy New Year.
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Above the altar, there is usually a Folk Print with five fruits, about Tet or sometimes is a Chinese script – a language of Vietnamese in history. Picture has been an integral part at Tet for million years in Vietnam.
In Northern, people often choose a red peach branch to put on the altar or a peach tree to ornament in the house. According to ancestor”s notions, peach brings a power that can expel evil. The red color contains strong vitality, it always bring the lucky to people.
This kind of flower is more common in the Central and South of Vietnam. The yellow color symbolizes for the noble and glory.
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Kumquat is often decorated in the living room. It has different designs but must ensure the lush, green leaves, yellow fruit expressing richness, with the desire of a new year with happiness, richness, lucky.