Monday, February 19, 2007


Happy new year to you, my family, my dear friend. We call this day is "Tet" holiday, and i want to tell all of you about "TET" holiday in viet nam.

Before "TET" holiday

Some days before Tet Ong Tao (on the 23rd of the twelfth moon), people start their preparations for the Kitchen God's journey to the Heaven to make his report to the Jade Emperor. This report includes the year's activities of the household in which he has lived. A farewell and thank-you dinner is given to the Kitchen God at Tet Ong Tao. The Kitchen God will need a week for his mission to Heaven.

After the Kitchen God has gone to the Heaven, preparations for the New Year festivities begin in enthusiasm. The week before New Year's Eve is called a period of "Tat Nien". Tat Nien (literally meaning the end or "to extinguish the year") is the celebration of the last session of a period, such as the last class of school, the last day in the office, even the last bath, all with parties and great ceremonies.

Some families set up a Tet tree outside the house in the week before New Year's Eve. The Tet tree, called cay neu, is a bamboo pole stripped of its leaves except for a tuft on top. It is supposed to ward off the evil spirits during absence of the Spirit of the Kitchen God.

Sweeping and scrubbing must be done during this time as tradition discourages it during the Tet holiday. Two items required for the proper enjoyment of Tet are peach flower branches and kumquat trees. Throughout the country, on bicycles of roving vendors, flowers create great splashes of color. In the north, the soft rose-colored dao peach flowers decorate homes and offices while the bright golden yellow branches of the hoa mai are preferred in the south.

Kumquat trees, about two or three feet tall, are carefully selected and prominently displayed. To carefully choose a kumquat tree, the buyer must pay attention to the symmetrical shape, to the leaves and to the color and shape of the fruit. The bushes have been precisely pruned to display ripe deep orange fruits with smooth clear thin skin shining like little suns or gold coins on the first day. Other fruits must still be green to ripen later. This represents the wish that wealth will come to you now and in the future.

When Tet is approaching, crowds of shoppers at the markets become thicker and more frantic each night, holding up traffic as they jostle each other to reach the counters with the best buys. Prices are a bit higher, but thriftiness is not considered a virtue at Tet.

While shoppers roam the streets, banh chung patties wrapped in leaves are steaming in giant vats. After being boiled until the outside of banh chung has taken on a lovely light green tinge, it is taken out of the vats and cooled. Banh chung will be eaten and used as offerings to worship ancestors during Tet.

Before the New Year's Eve, shops, stalls and restaurants are locked, leaving a notice hung on the door announcing the date of reopening. Special dishes must be completed to serve the family and its guests for the first three days of the new year.

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