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Happy TET 2019 Year of the Pig

TET Vietnamese New Year 2019 is Year of the Pig.  In Vietnamese culture, the pig is considered to be a calm and lucky animal, representing care-free fun, good fortune and wealth. The Lunar New Year is a celebration of fortune and happiness and one of the most important holidays in Vietnam. This year TET is February 5-12th.

It is theorized that a person’s characteristics are decided by their birth year’s zodiac animal sign and element. There are five types of Pigs, each with different characteristics:

Type of Pig Year of Birth Characteristics
Wood Pig 1935, 1995 Good-natured, lovely, easy-going, generous, brave but irritable
Fire Pig 1947, 2007 Ambitious, persevering, but impatient
Earth Pig 1959, 2019 Communicative, popular among their friends, with a strong sense of timekeeping
Gold Pig 1911, 1971 Broad-minded, amicable, and willing to help others
Water Pig 1923, 1983 Gentle, modest, earnest, responsible, but subjective in life

During Tet, homes,  businesses and public areas are covered with festive artsy banners with special calligraphy and ornaments. It is a beautiful, joyful time to go into the city and enjoy a day from morning to late evening. 

vietnamese lunar new year decoration

At home, families work together to prepare a feast to welcome visiting relatives and friends. Family members and friends also exchange gifts. During the week before Tet the entire family works together to clean every part of the home. Exterior walls are scrubbed, floors are swept, furniture is dusted, and windows are washed. Once the home has been thoroughly cleaned, it will be decorated with various celebratory items.

The first few days of Tet are meant to be spent visiting friends and relatives. The first day is reserved for being with close friends and one’s parents. The next day, the Vietnamese call on their in-laws and other friends. And on the third day, people call upon their distant relations or their teachers. Teachers play very important role in Vietnamese culture. Tet officially ends on the seventh day, marked by dragon processions throughout the streets.

A large feast is shared among family members on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Because of this, it is necessary to purchase ingredients on the days leading up to the holiday. Many of the dishes are based on local ingredients, so traditional foods often depend on region. One of the most popular dishes enjoyed during the New Year feast is banh chung, a rice cake with mung beans, pork, and other ingredients that depend on the area and the preferences of the chef.

Banh Day, a common Tet food, is a sweet rice cake that is chewy due to its glutinous rice. The cake is wrapped in banana leaves and served in pairs. Another popular Tet celebration food, canh mang is a soup made of pickled bamboo, broth, and pork, chicken, or seafood. This tangy soup is a staple of Lunar New Year feasts throughout Vietnam. Canh măng is often paired with gio lua, a Vietnamese pork roll. Portions of gio lua are often cut into thick slices and served on plates. Before and after the feast, a few ceremonial words are spoken to honor the ancestors.


vietnamese new year flowerFollowing the spring theme of the Lunar New Year celebrations, Vietnamese people will place a plant in the rooms of their homes. Some of the most common plant choices include marigolds, chrysanthemums, and bonsai trees. In central and south Vietnam, hoa mai and kumquats are placed in the central rooms of homes. In the north, a peach flower, or hoa ban, is used. At the center of the home decorations is a holiday tree made from a bamboo pole. This bamboo pole is decorated with various charms, cactus branches, and other objects. It is also a common practice for Vietnamese families to purchase new clothes to wear during the holiday and the upcoming year. While traditional garb may be worn, it has now become more common for people to buy clothes that can be used on a regular basis. While these practices of preparing for the New Year allow people to pay respects to ancestors, they also serve the purpose of tidying up the home when there are no other commitments. 

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a time of good fortune and new beginnings. Because of this, it has become a custom of many Vietnamese people to start a new business or expand their existing enterprises. A small party will usually be held by a business person to celebrate the opening of their newest shop.

It is a custom of parents in Vietnam to give children a small sum of money to enjoy during the beginning of the New Year. This practice encourages children to give respect to their parents throughout the New Year.During Tet it is polite to offer a greeting to friends, family members, and strangers. The traditional greeting for the holiday is ‘Cung Chuc Tan Xuan’ Or “Van Su Nhu Y”. This greeting can be used to wish a good spring to anyone that you encounter during the holiday. Another commonly used greeting is ‘Chuc mung nam moi’, or ‘Happy New Year’. This is a literal translation of the Western New Years greeting and has become more popular in recent years.

The Lunar New Year is a celebration of fortune and happiness and one of the largest holidays the Vietnamese people enjoy.  Happy TET 2019.

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