Sunday, 18 January 2009

Vietnamese New Year (Tet)

Vietnamese New Year or Tet is based on the Lunar Calendar. It is from the 30th day of the last Lunar month (December of the Chinese Calendar) to the 3rd day of the first Lunar month (January of the Chinese calendar).

Vietnamese people often come back to their families during Tet although they live very far from their families. They visit the graves of their ancestors and meet other members in their families after they haven't been for a long time.

Vietnamese families have a tray of five fruits (Mam Ngu Qua) on the family altar including banana, orange, kumquat, pomelo and finger citron. Each kind of fruit has a different meaning. Pomelos promise a lucky and sweet year. Banana and finger citron symbolize one's wish for the protection of supernatural powers and ancestors,
kumquats and oranges stand for wealth and success. A southern Mam Ngu Qua seems to usually have custard apples, fig, coconut, papaya and mango. In the Vietnamese language, they are cau, sung, dua, du du and xoai and if these five words are strung together and altered just a bit (to 'cau sung vua du xai') it means 'praying to God rich for enough'. Mam Ngu Qua is a part of the Vietnamese culture and represents peoples' wishes for a lucky or prosperous New Year.

Traditionally, on the 23rd day of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, the Kitchen God (Ong Tao) of every house, who reports to the Jade Emperor about the events in that house over the past year, depart to heaven.

The 30th night of the last Lunar month is known as New Year's Eve (Dem Giao Thua). The first day of the first Lunar month is called Mung 1 Tet. On the morning of the New Year's Day (Mung 1 Tet), people put on new clothes and greet Happy New Year (Chuc Mung Nam Moi)together. Children give the traditional Tet greetings to their parents, relatives, or visitors and get money in a Lucky red bag (Li Xi).

People visit Buddhist temples to give donations and to get their fortunes told. They also visit their relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues during Tet three days. For three days, one takes extra care not to show anger and not to be rude to people.