Tet den roi!
In the Chinese horoscope’s twelve-year cycle, 2020 is the year of the rat and the start of a new revolution of the zodiac wheel. Rat characteristics are said to be industrious and thrifty, diligent and positive, charming and quick-witted. In terms of ying-yang, they represent the dawning of a new day, and the year is set to be one of strength and vitality. Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
The start of the lunar new year, a time for friends and family, food and flowers, festivities and fireworks. A time to see out the old and welcome the new, to remember the past and celebrate the present. To exchange red envelopes and share wishes of luck. It’s Christmas and New Year rolled into one. This is the spirit of Vietnam!
In the lead up to Tet, the first weeks of the western new year, houses are cleaned and bad luck ushered away. Now is the time to settle unfinished business, resolve disputes and pay debts accumulated over the last 12 months.
Kitchens around the country come alive with activity as traditional feats are prepared for the soon to arrive friends and family. Offerings are made to the Kitchen God so he sends favourable reports to the Jade Emperor. Alters are set up, and incense burned in respect and remembrance of those who have departed.
On the stroke of midnight, the New Year is welcomed and the air fills with the sounds and smells of exploding fireworks, beating drums and barking dogs. Lady Luck is being courted, bringing health, happiness and prosperity for year ahead.
The first person to cross the threshold of the house should be of good nature, high moral standing, rich, and successful, so the family’s luck is set for the next 12 months. New clothes are worn for the first day of Tet. Friends and family visit baring red and gold envelopes filled with lucky money, eating and drinking together, playing cards, exchanging gifts, and sharing hopes and dreams for the coming year.
The streets are the quietest they will be the whole year. If it’s your first Tet experience this is the time to go out and explore. It won’t be long until you are invited in for drinks and snacks, and perhaps to say mot hai ba dzo! as you raise a glass of traditional rice wine. The mood is high, people are happy, there’s no better time to experience the real Vietnam.