As Vietnam prepares for Têt (also known as the Lunar New Year), we offer
you some insight on what Têt is all about and what you should expect.
By the end of this packet, you will be well prepared on the history and
traditions of Têt, what to be cautious about during Têt, how to say a
few Têt phrases in Vietnamese, where all of the Têt festivities are
taking place and what businesses will be open during Têt.
What is Têt?
Têt is the most important festival of the Vietnamese calendar. It marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and a time to make a new start. Festivities occur throughout the country, but this is a family holiday and many of the traditions of observance occur in the home. The official holiday lasts four days, and celebrations continue for at least the first week of the New Year.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs, 2014 is the year of the Green Wood Horse, the seventh zodiac sign. The Horse is usually the life of the party. They are animated, extroverted and exciting. Horses have fun with strangers and friends, alike. Most people born in the year of the Horse have one recognizable characteristic — a free spirit. Horse people are quick witted and impulsive. They use their intelligence with pragmatism to succeed in life and in business. This year Têt begins on January 31st and ends on February 2nd.
Vietnamese families prepare their houses for the coming of the prosperous New Year by cleaning up and polishing their silver, among other tasks. Preparations begin about ten days before the New Year. Homes are cleaned out in the hopes of getting rid of the past year’s bad luck, and some families go so far as to repaint their home’s exterior. It also is believed to be lucky to buy new clothes and get a fresh haircut; parents buy new clothes for their children so that the children
can wear them when Têt arrives. In the days leading up to Têt, the streets and markets are full of people. As most all shops will be closed during Têt, people will stock up on supplies and you should as well, at least enough for 1 or 2 days.
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