What Vietnamese New Year means to me
- Posted on February 1, 2022
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
Hustling and bustling with dust flying and mop water splattering throughout the house is how you would see my family on the eve of the Vietnamese New Year (Tet). I could always rely on my mom to remind me when Tet was growing up, because it was always the day after the chaotic house cleaning. Having a clean house before the New Year is important, as it is the time to chase out the bad spirit and bad luck and to welcome a new and better beginning. It is also a time to welcome the spirit of our ancestors into the home. However, in my opinion, I think they would be more annoyed by our family's procrastination on the cleaning than coming into a messy house!
Tet, Vietnamese New Year, is based on the lunar calendar and is the same celebrated day as the Chinese New Year. This year it falls on February 1st and will begin the year of the tiger following the Chinese zodiac. It is a three-day celebration and in Vietnam, it is celebrated and observed for a week.
I think for many folks, what they enjoy most during Tet is the celebration – the loud banging of drums, the sight of lion dances, and the deafening crackle and pop from the firecrackers. Growing up in a city where it was second nature to mentally block off the noises from moped horns roaring up and down the road, and the street vendors yelling out about what’s fresh and for sale for the day, it is a surreal experience to wake up to the sound of nothing in the early morning of Tet. Many businesses in Vietnam would close during the holiday so they can visit family or go out to festivals. My parents were always excited on the days leading up to Tet as they were able to take a small breather and close shop for a few days to visit family.
For Vietnamese, the first guest to enter the household during the new year is very important. Having someone with good morals or good character visiting the household would set the tone and bless us for the year ahead. When we moved to America, I always remember telling my friends that they can’t come over during Tet, not because they’re bad, but because they’re not straight A students!
As we are entering Tet this year, I hope that many of us get the chance to pause from our busy lives and take the opportunity to start cleaning. As much as it is a literal action to wipe away the clutter and dust of our surroundings, I believe it’s also a way for us to slow down for reflection and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. As we often say to each other in Vietnam: Chuc Mung Nam Moi. Good health and prosperity to all!