“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” – Happy Vietnamese New Year!

In Vietnamese, it is called “Tet – or “Tết Nguyên Đán” which means “The First Morning”  and it lasts 15 days. This year it is the Year of the Cat , and  It goes from the 20 to 26 January, 2023.

On Jan. 22, 2023, more than a billion people globally will welcome the Year of the Rabbit – or the Year of Cat, depending on which lunar calendar they follow – as the start of the Lunar New Year. In the New York City public school district, Lunar New Year has been observed as a school holiday since 2015.

Tết is the most important festival of the year, and it is also a celebration of Spring. It is family time, including honoring ancestors.  Food preparation is very important to welcome friends and relatives, and there are public celebrations such as fireworks, parades. dragon dances among other things.  On the first three days all businesses are closed, and you cannot cut or prepare food. People prepare food in advance that will last three days. It is the equivalent to American Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time. Whether at home or school, I hope this gives you a starting point to have a Fiesta in the Making.

Tết’s timeline and etiquette:

1- Clean and decorate the house, ancestor’s altar with a “Tet” tree of yellow peach/ apricot or kumquat branches in bloom, plants, luckiest colors are Red and Yellow.

2- Buy New Clothes to wear on the First day of New Year.

3- Farewell ceremony for the “Kitchen God” [Ong Tao] so that he can ride on a carp to heaven and give a good report of the family’s behavior in the past year to the “Jade Emperor”.

4- Set a pyramid of “Five-Fruit” on a plate. The world was made of five basic elements:
Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth.

5- “Xong – Dat”, The first guest to arrive will determine the fortune of the family for the rest of the year.It must be a successful, positive guest, and they are greeted with the phrase ” Have you Eaten Yet”.

7- Buying “Salt,” was used to preserve food, it has always been very important to enhance the flavor of food too, and relations should be salty [happy] and strong.

8-Giving Away “li-xi” good health/luck red envelopes to children, not adults. The amount of money in “even numbers”, never odd. Even numbers in the dishes you serve as well.

9- Visit temples, in the first days of the festival to show respect to “religious institutions”. one’s soul with the aroma of burning incense and flowers. Getting rid of all worries and stress from the previous year. At home, say a grateful prayer to the ancestors.

10- At the stroke of midnight people light “Fireworks” to scare away any bad spirits. Today, fireworks are not allowed on residences to avoid injuries; they are replaced by poking balloons to imitate the sound of the firecrackers. People gather at parks to view the official fireworks at midnight.to


Children books about Vietnam’s New Year and stories that you might like to read.

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