Tết Nguyên Đán brings a new beginning to Vietnamese households


Depending on your source, the recent lunar new year may be the year of the rabbit or year of the cat depending on what culture you are celebrating. For Chinese Lunar New Year, it is the year of the rabbit, but for Vietnamese Lunar New Year, it is the year of the cat.

Besides having a year of the cat instead of the year of the rabbit, Tết differs from Chinese new year by having the year of the buffalo instead of the year of the ox and the year of the goat instead of the year of the sheep.

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is called Tết Nguyên Đán or simply Tết which directly translates to “the first morning of the first day of the new period.”

According to the Asian Nation, Tết is almost like New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving combined because it is the biggest and most important holiday to many Vietnamese. 

Tết Nguyên Đán is celebrated for the first three days of the first month of the Vietnamese lunar calendar which is around late and early February. According to ThoughtCo., some traditions can be observed for up to a week. This year, Tết will begin on Jan. 22, 2023.

Those who celebrate it for three days usually spend the first day with immediate family, the second for visiting friends, and the third day is dedicated to teachers and visiting temples. 

Similar to Chinese Lunar New Year, Tết is used as a fresh start, so in preparation of the coming new year, individuals clean and dust their homes in hopes of attracting luck and as much good fortune as possible.

“Before Tết, we prepare the house by cleaning it entirely,” said Redlands East Valley High School senior Jennifer Huynh, “It’s believed that cleaning your house before the new year will bring you good luck because it gets rid of the bad luck and misfortune.”

Another tradition during Tết is to hand out red envelopes with money inside to children.

“People give out lucky money which is called li xì,” said REV senior Chi Vo.

“For my family tradition, we all wear red and go to my grandma’s house,” said Redlands East Valley High School junior Kayla Vu, “My grandma makes a lot of food including moon cakes. Later in the night, the older people in the family like my aunts and uncles give me and my cousins money in red envelopes.”

All can now take part in the Vietnamese Lunar New Year by attending a festival. The popular festival is called the UVSA Tết Fest, and it is organized by the United Vietnamese Student Alliance (UVSA). Tết Fest is held in Orange County at the OC Fair and Event Center and tickets are $8 which are purchased at the main gate.

Tết Fest went from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29. Festival activities include a pho eating contest, lion dancing, and plenty of food and merchandise from small businesses to purchase.

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