This entry is for my dearest friends Elisa, Melinda, May, Luz, Noramaj and others. I hope it can give you a general look and information about Tết in our beloved Việt Nam country – where you are a part, in a certain meaning. I'm happy to be friend of you. It's my pride to have your such great friends like you.
Year of the Ox is coming. Wishing you and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year !
Lunar Calendar indicates the "Tết Nguyên Đán" on January 26th in Solar Calendar.
"Tết Nguyên Đán" is a Chinese Vietnamese.
"Tết" is a deviatory pronunciation of "Tiết" which means "Season" in the literal sense and "Festival" in the figurative sense.
"Nguyên" means The First.
"Đán" means The Morning.
"Tết Nguyên Đán" means the ceremony of the first morning of the lunar year.
The Western call it "Chinese New Year". We prefer the term of "Lunar New Year" as China is not the only country using Lunar Calendar and this ceremony is performed in various Asian countries. Here it is called "Tết" for short. The Festival starts from the 23rd of December to 10th of Januray, in Lunar Calendar.
Everybody will return home and stay with their family during the Tet. It's the precious and meaningful time.
Vietnam has its own special custom in "Tết" originated from the legends. The custom respects the best traditional values in our nation and reflects certain sides of life reality.
What are these custom ? …
DECORATION IN TẾT [/u]
What will you see around in Tết ?
You will see Hoa Mai – a typical flower blossoming during Tết only – in the warm South areas. You then see Hoa Đào in stead in the cold North area. These flowers are symbols of blessing and godsend.
Hoa Mai is put in the middle of the house, the most solemn position !
There will be Water Melon, Bánh Chưng (square glutinous rice cake), wish fruits (Siamese custard apple, coconut, papaya, mango and fig) as well as manderin orange tree.
Wish fruits reflect our wish of godsends for a prosperous new year.
Various kinds of flower are put at the door to welcome Tết and guests.
RING OUT THE OLD YEAR AND RING IN THE NEW YEAR [/u]
By the year end, we do the cleaning, remove old things, do the house decoration, prepare new clothing, have our hair styled …etc. We ring out the old things to welcome the new year.
VISIT ANCESTOR'S GRAVESIDE [/u]
Descendants visit ancestor's graveside anytime from December 23rd to December 30th (Lunar calendar). Descendants do the cleaning & decoration for the graveside. Ritual offerings to the ancestors is performed to invite ancestors home during the Tết.
RITUAL OFFERINGS TO KITCHEN GOD [/u]
It's trusted that our behaviors are witnessed and reported to Jade Emperor by the Kitchen God on 23rd December. Ritual offerings is performed as farewell. It reminds the creators on kind behaviors and good.
23rd Dec is the starting day for the Tết period.
RITUAL OFFERINGS TO WELCOME ANCESTORS HOME [/u]
The Ancestors are invited home during the visit to Graveside and the ritual offerings is performed to welcome ancestors. The performance is done in the afternoon of Dec. 30th, usually at lunch time. Food and fruits are displayed on the ancestor altar. Head of family starts the thurification. Everyone respectively welcome ancestors home and pray for a new year in happiness and prosperity.
GIAO THỪA – THE EVE [/u]
"Giao" means crossing, meeting
"Thừa" means successor
Giao Thừa simply mean the time between old and new year – The Eve.
Ritual offerings is performed to celebrate this spiritual moment.
Firecrackers are burned … It's prohibited now…. Fireworks instead !
Wishes are sent to grandparents and parents.
After 12:00 of 30th Dec., it's the first moment of the new year. One member of the family will leave house to perform the Departure of the New Year (Xuất Hành). It's very important and trusted that this departure will effect to your travel during the new year. People check and follow the direction and place which is match with age and fate to avoid risks in the coming year.
Most of people depart for worship in pagoda!
FIRST CALLER OF THE NEW YEAR [/u]
It's trusted that the first visitor to your house after the Eve will effect to your new year. First caller may bring fortune or bad luck. People select the correct person and invite to visit their home. Correct means matching of age & fate, having good business and good luck, having happy life during the last year.
Some houses lock the door to wait for their first caller. Therefore, if you're not invited, do not visit anybody on the eve and the 1st day !
The first caller must be well dressed and visit all corners of house to bring good fortune.
If the hosts can not find a correct person, they can be the first caller for them go out and come in again.
WISHES AND LÌ XÌ [/u]
"Lì xì" is often called "Hong Bao" – Red Envelop – which is translated from Chinese words.
A small amount – called lucky money – is put inside the Red Envelop and give to kids or even adult children. This performance indicate the wish from adults or parents to kids and children of having a good luck in life & study. Upon receipt of the Red Envelop, the kids also send wishes to adult as a thank.
WISH OF LONGEVITY [/u]
Young people send wishes of longevity to the old people. One more age is counted to everybody when Tet comes.
THE FIRST 3 DAYS [/u]
The First Day is the most important day. All member must stay home. We call it family day. Everybody sit down together, send wishes, give "lì xì", laugh, smiles, talk on pleasures or visit other relatives of Father.
The Second Day is also for family. It's for Mother family. People can visit the relatives of Mother.
The Third Day is for Teachers and Friends. People visits old teachers, boss, partners, friends …etc.
Some people combine visit of Mother and Father relative on the First Day, 2nd day is for teachers and master, then 3rd day is for friends.
By the way, ritual offerings are stilled performed during these first 3 days.
COLOR OF TẾT [/u]
Color of Tết is RED. It's the color of good luck !
It's trusted that the says, behaviors and attitude in the first 3 days will bring Good Fortune or Bad Luck to the coming year, people are very careful in talking and activities. Here are some taboos :
– No cleaning. Sweeping, especially rubbish of firecracker, out of the door means sweep the money out.
– No gift of medicines or sharp things. It's considered to bring disease and danger to home
– No bad words, sad words or crying. It's an indication of bad year
– No breaking of dishes or mirror. It's symbol of family break.
– No white or black dressing. It's a sign of death and mourning. (Therefore, don't dress these colors when you visit somebody)
…… etc …
The closing of Tết is marked by the ceremony of lowering the New Year Tree. In Vietnamese, it's CÂY NÊU.
It's said that Evils visit land during Tết. New Year Tree is raise up in courtyard of each home to drive away evils.
It will be lowered on the 6th, 8th or 10th to remark the finish of Tết festival.