The occasion of Tet is very important for the Vietnamese, with people coming back for it, no matter whatever part in the world they might be.
It is an occasion that is to be celebrated with friends, family and loved ones, and the Vietnamese have a certain way, set traditions that they follow to perfection, in order to have the perfect Tet celebration that is most memorable.
The rituals or traditions involved with the celebration of Tet or the Vietnamese New Year are:
- Decorating the House:
With the advent of the New Year, houses are decorated and cleaned thoroughly, usually the heart of the home the kitchen is the first place which is cleaned, and done most thoroughly. Once the house has been cleaned with incense which is generally done to rid the house of any ill-luck is done, the houses are painted or decorated.
- Buying New Clothes:
It is a tradition of Tet to buy new clothes for the occasion, especially for the children of the house. It is an exciting time for kids as they get new clothes and shoes, as the belief of wearing your best outfit on the first day of the year is associated with the good luck that the coming year might bring.
- Bidding Farewell to the Kitchen Gods:
The kitchen Gods also known as the Ong Tao are given special reverence on the occasion, as it is believed that almost seven days prior to the day Tet is celebrated, Ong Tao ascends towards the Heaven as his work is to report to the Jade Emperor, the affairs of the household as they took place in the entire year.
- Celebrating the Eve of Tet:
The celebration of the eve of the New Year is important as it is believed that the 12 animals that control the zodiac monitoring of the Earth pass on the duties from one animal to its successor like the year 2015 shall see the beacon of duties being passed on from the horse to the sheep. The Vietnamese New Year Eve is known also known as Giao Thua which literally means the Passage from the Old to the New, the occasion is also important as it is believed that Ong Tao returns back from the annual consul with the Jade Emperor at this time, hence there are open air ceremonies are held in order to welcome him back.
- Celebrating the Earth’s Aura:
It is believed that the first person to enter the house is very important to judge the rest of the year. If the person is a person of repute, and is successful etc., then it is a sign of good fortune that the year shall hold. This practice is perhaps most visible in the families who have a running into business and commercial ventures.
- The Usage of Apricot and Peach Flowers:
Since Flower blossoms are considered to be symbolic of new beginnings, hence the Vietnamese consider two flowers to be most auspicious and symbolic of the occasion of Tet; the Apricot and Peach flowers have a special place in the decorations for Tet. There is barely any household in Vietnam that will be without these flowers for the occasion.
- Distributing of Red Envelopes:
The practice of giving away Red envelopes full of money on the occasion of the New Year is something that has been an integral part of the Vietnamese culture. Generally the elderly give away the red envelopes to the youth. The correct way of doing so is that the youth greet the elders with certain greetings, which are returned kindly with words of wisdom by the elders and hence the red envelopes are handed out by them.
- Offerings to the Ancestors:
Generally on the first day of Tet at noontime, the head of a household, offers the ancestors with offerings, in the proper manner and invite them to partake in the household celebrations. The act is to honour the ancestors and ask for their blessings, so that the family may stay happy and be saved from ill-luck.
Hence the Vietnamese New Year is an intrinsic part of the Vietnamese culture and elaborate rituals are performed in order to open the doors of the home to good luck and abundance throughout the year.