Activities to prepare for Tet Holidays- Lunar New Year Celebrating

According to the Lunar Calendar, Tet is the new year vacation and it’s the most important holiday of every Vietnamese. Tet is mainly celebrated on the three beginning days of January in the Lunar calendar, but usually everyone will have a 2-week vacation to enjoy Tet.

So what activities local Vietnamese do to prepare before Tet?? Let’s find out the answer with Jackfruit Adventure’s guides to prepare for Tet- Lunar New Year celebration

 

2-weeks before Tet- Lunar New Year in Vietnam

  • Cross the finishing line

In this period, everyone will try to finish all of their work, tasks and goals, pay all debts as much as possible to obtain the 13th monthly salary as a bonus for a whole year of hard-working, contained in lucky envelopes and to make sure they can have a relaxing vacation, no “work” appearing on everyone’s mind. Everything on the street may seem to be rushed and busy at that time, but for a short time it will be taken over by the surprisingly peaceful atmosphere when the people stop chasing their career and looking for Tet. 

Tet's holiday activities
13th monthly salary is always expected before Tet
  • Plan for trips

Many individuals in Vietnam opt for celebrating Tet in a traditional manner, however, a significant number will opt to embark on a family trip during the Tet holidays, which serves as an excellent chance to reconnect with every member of the family. Traveling is widely regarded as one of the most fulfilling activities to partake in during the Tet holiday but it would be a good idea for expats and foreign tourists to not travel in Vietnam during Tet holiday because it’s so crowded in any tourist attractions.

Traveling Tet's holiday activities
Tet’s the perfect chance for family trips
  • Start to prepare flowers

During Lunar New Year, local people hunger to purchase a bunch of flowers to adorn their altars or homes, with the intention of wishing for the upcoming year filled with hope, good fortune, and improved prospects. It symbolizes a desire for a blossoming year, mirroring the beauty and vibrancy of the flowers they acquire.

Tet's activity in Ho chi Minh city
What is Tet without flowers? Ho Thi Ky flowers market before Tet

But this is still not the best time for local people to buy the trees and flowers yet, some just want to trim and do some technical works that will help the flowers blossom at the appropriate time- on the initial days of Lunar’s January.

Ho Thi Ky wholesale flower market is one of the most vibrant places for Tet’s flowers. Join our off-the-beaten path cycling tour for the outdoor activity in Ho Chi Minh city experiencing the atmosphere of Tet’s preparation in Ho Thi Ky market.

Tet's holiday activities in Saigon
Discover Ho Thi Ky flower market with Jackfruit Adventure

 

  • Buy new housewares and devices
local activities before Tet's holiday
Shopping is a must to prepare for Tet

As it flows to the last days of the Lunar calendar, the marketplaces become more busy than ever. The most popular activity to prepare for Tet is to spend the 13th monthly salary to buy new housewares and devices for the most convenient and comfortable days during the new year. The Vietnamese always try to avoid the unwanted problems using those things during new year as they believe it brings bad luck.

  • Repair things in the house.

Just like the new stuff that can be bought, the local people will try to fix the broken ones like electric fans, motorbikes, clothes… and make it brand new for the smoothest Tet holidays. Whatever it’s fixed by themselves or the local mechanic, everything must be done as soon as possible because there are still many tasks for the Tet’s preparation.

Tet's holiday local activities in Saigon
More things to fix than usual before Tet

1-weeks before Tet- Lunar New Year in Vietnam

  • Going back to hometown

Usually the Vietnamese have their 2-week holidays beginning on around 24-25th December (Lunar calendar). That’s when many people working far from home have the opportunity to book a bus and go back to their hometown immediately because they miss their families and friends a lot after a whole year of working and lack of holidays.

Tet holiday activities
Way back home before Tet

During these days, all the roads that lead from Saigon to other nearby areas like Mekong Delta, Central highlands and South coastal provinces have serious traffic jams, due to the tremendous amount of workers from many provinces gathered at Saigon for business and jobs. That’s also the reason why you should avoid traveling before Tet.

  • Prepare Kitchen-god’s altar 

Starting from 21st to 11:30 AM on 23rd December (Lunar calendar), the main task is to worship the god “Tao Quan” who would stay in everyone’s kitchen, near the fires. Annually, Tao Quan has the duty that he goes to the human’s world to note all the good and evil things from everyone for a whole year and has to report it back to the Jade Emperor (the almighty god in Chinese’s Taoism) at the end of the year.

Lunar new year activities Tet
Releasing Goldfish- Tet’s traditional activity

The altar of Tao Quan always has: some traditional dishes, fruits, joss paper and alive gold fishes swimming on a bucket. The owner of the house will burn some incenses and show gratitude to Tao Quan for all the good luck and support for the family this year.

Tet holiday activity
Ong Tao altar on 23th December

After that, the house’s owner will release the alive goldfish into some nearby water. Tao Quan will ride that goldfish and fly back to heaven where  the Jade Emperor’s staying. The Vietnamese people nowaday still do this Tet’s activity proudly as it’s a beauty of traditional culture.

  • Prepare the long-term food

Why long-term food for such a 2-week long holiday? Long-term food is actually convenient dishes that don’t need to spend much time to prepare and can be for consecutive days. Normally during Tet holiday, there is no time to cook. A lot of guests will come to visit your family many times a day, so there should be quick-prepared food and time to have conversation with the long-time-no-see persons instead of wasting a lot of time inside the kitchen. Visiting your relative’s house is also initial, so long-term food is the most recommended. Some examples for Vietnamese traditional long-term food during Tet: Fried spring-rolls, caramelized pork with eggs, pickled pig’s ears and kimchi ,Vietnamese steamed pork sausage.

Tet traditional food
Celebrating parties all day long during Tet
  • Tidy up all parts of the house.

After a whole year of hard-work, some people may not take care of their houses carefully. The last days of the year are the necessary time to clean up the house, rearrange everything and maintain the beauty of the living place. 

Activities for Tet holiday
All family members have to clean up the house before Tet

Plus, Vietnamese culture believes that sweeping and mopping the floor during Tet is not recommended, unless they will also wipe not only the dust, but also the good luck and the chance of getting more money, out of the house. 

  • Buy new clothes for the family.

Wearing new clothes is part of Vietnam’s traditions. Everyone must have new clothes especially during the Tet. They believe that wearing new clothes symbolizes welcoming the good news, good luck, richness and forgetting the things that went wrong last year. Wearing new clothes also helps the house to avoid the evil atmosphere that could do harm to health and fortunes.

Tet clothes traditional
Ao Dai is the best costume for Tet

Traditional clothes “ao dai” would be on top of the list for Tet’s clothing. Local people can easily buy it somewhere in the flea markets, or get some high quality fabric at specialized markets like Soai Kinh Lam, Kim Bien, Tan Binh… and hand it over to the tailors for the best “ao dai”.

Join our off-the-beaten path cycling tour for a visit to Soai Kinh Lam the biggest fabric market in Saigon/

  • Get new hair colors and nails.
Activities before Tet's holiday
Mass crowded hair salons before Tet

Perfect appearances is the key for perfect Tet, everyone has to look good with fashions and happy emotions, some could go to the spa to maintain the beautiful face for Tet. Hair dying is also popular. It’s like blossoming flowers coming to someone’s house when you look at the dyed hairs. Yellow and red are the two favorite colors of the customers, as yellow symbolizes money, light, gold while red symbolizes love and good luck. Nails are also customized by most girls and women like it’s a must for a happy Tet. 

Few days left before Tet- Lunar New Year in Vietnam

  • Making Banh Chung, Banh Tet
Tet holiday's food traditional cakes
Banh Chung, Banh Tet

Banh Chung (squared-shaped, symbolized the earth) and Banh Tet (cylinder-shaped or round shaped, symbolized the sky) are the two traditional cakes of Tet. No matter how rich or poor the family is, Banh Chung and Banh Tet are must-haves. 

Tet holiday activities
Family reunion’s atmosphere while making Banh Chung

Making Banh Chung and Banh Tet is also a good Tet’s activity to unite all family’s member together, making cakes while talking to each other. Kids can also learn the traditions from the elders. The process of making these cakes is extremely time-consuming, careful and requires techniques required. 

Several Banh Chung are put in a big pot, boiled overnight by the dancing fires of charcoal. There will always be a person who guards the Banh Chung pot, unless the water is dried and the cakes get burnt. Growing up with the Banh Chung pot is something deep down in every child’s heart that’s impossible to forget. 

One-of-a-kind experience: cooking Banh Chung overnight.
  • Prepare chickens

Chickens are very important during Tet, for meals and also for altar preparation so each family will have at least 3-4 chickens prepared or alive. They will get it a few days before Tet holidays- when all markets close and food is not available at all cost.

things to prepare for Tet's holiday
Chickens are needed everyday during Tet

Chickens are also super important in Vietnamese traditional folks, it represents integrity and strength. Chickens also can “summon the sun” which people display the chickens on the altars and pray for a new year with good weather, good health and good vibes. 

  • Buying flowers and trees for decorations.
Tet holiday activity
Tet’s boring without decorations

Besides the altar flowers, flowers and trees for decoration is a big deal. Normally, Apricot and Peach Blossoms hold a special place in people’s hearts as beloved flowers during the festivities of the New Year. These blossoms carry profound symbolism, with Apricot Blossoms representing good fortune and prosperity, while Peach Blossoms exude love and the spirit of blooming.

Tet's holiday flowers
Peach and Apricot blossoms
  • Year-end parties

The last party of the year is meaningful for every individual and communities as they eat, drink and sing together to let the hatred fade away, all get ready for an upcoming year. The parties usually can be held at least 1 day before the countdown so everyone can have time to for family on the last day of the year.

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Last day of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam

  • Watching the year-end comedy show:

A few hours before the Tet, a bunch of Tao Quan ridiculously appears on TV and report everything to the Jade Emperor about the world last year. This TV show definitely is one of the most entertaining Tet’s activities for everyone, offering a flashback through every moment and big changes from last year.

Tet's holiday activities
Tao Quan comedy show- a specialty in the last day of Lunar Year
  • Prepare the an special altar for the very first second of the new year
Tet's activity
Preparing Lunar new year’s altar

The altar may has many kinds of food and flowers depending on the condition of the family, but these things below are worth to have:

  • A whole boiled chicken (may hold a branch of flower in its mouth) to pray for a hopeful new year.
  • Banh Chung or Banh Tet (Banh Tet could be replaced by a dish of sticky rice as it still keep the round shape): to worship the sky and  the earth
  • Rice and salt: people will throw rice and salt away as they also throw all the bad luck away from new year.
  • A fruitful plate: To pray for a fruitful new year. Each kind of fruit on the plate symbolizes a specific meaning. For example: 

Coconut, papaya: Has things enough, not too much or too less

Soursop: Praying

Banana: Family unite (like a bunch of bananas)

Pomelo: Wealth

Orange and tangerine: Success and health

Watermelon: Lucky

So a fruitful plate is like wordplays, 5 kinds of fruit gather at one plate, all united and together make sense

When the clock ticks to the last seconds of the year, the neighbors start to do the countdown from 10 to 1,  everything inside your mind disappears and is replaced by solemnity. All things in the world, the people, the fireworks, the clocks, the earth and the sky… all waiting for just one moment. 

 

Other activities you may looking for: 

 

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