Tet Holiday – Everything about Vietnamese New Year 2023

Tet Holiday in Vietnam

Tet holiday – Vietnamese Lunar New Year or simply Tet Vietnam is the most significant festival in the S-shaped country. As a result of being calculated by the lunar calendar, the Tet festival often occurs at the end of January or the beginning of February, which is later than New Year’s Day. As the longest Vietnam holiday, Tet Vietnam is the most wonderful occasion for all foreign tourists to spend their Vietnam vacation packages enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring one of the oldest festivals in the world. Tet festival 2023 is on January 22nd, 2023 (New Year’s Eve is the previous day).

tet holiday vietnamese lunar new year
Tet Holiday – Vietnamese New Year

What is Tet Holiday – Vietnamese New Year?

Tet Vietnam is celebrated to welcome the Lunar New Year and summarize what they did in the old one. It is considered an important mark for changes, plans, and progress. In addition, Vietnamese people believe that what they do on the first day of the new year will affect their rest. Therefore, they pay great attention to every word they say and everything they do. Furthermore, Tet in Vietnam may be the only occasion for all family members to have happy moments together after a year of hard-working.

a family making chung cake for tet holiday
A family is making traditional Chung cakes on the Tet holiday

A traditional Tet festival in Vietnam often lasts for a month. However, the busy life makes it shorter and even disappears. If you choose a new type of travel like cruising to enjoy the multi-culture Lunar New Year, your travel plan should be picked the right countries where people still hold a long festival such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which is often a week. Recently, some people express their idea to cancel the Vietnamese New Year and only celebrate the Western New Year. Although it is constructive, the Tet holiday will still be remaining as a vital festival in Vietnam because of its priceless traditions, customs, and meaning.

tet festival in vietnam

The Features of Tet Holiday – Vietnamese New Year

Vietnamese Lunar New Year is NOT Chinese Lunar New Year

It is absolutely mistaken to say that the Vietnamese are celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. Although both countries use the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people have different lunar new year customs, celebrations, and traditions from China.

The History of Lunar New Year in Vietnam

According to the historical documents, in the thirteenth century, Vietnamese people often celebrated the Tet holiday by painting tattoos on themselves, drinking traditional glutinous-rice liquor, using betel nuts to welcome guests, and eating Chung cakes, pickled onions. In the Ly dynasty (1009-1226), many important rituals were made for the Tet festival such as setting up a dome to pray for the rains or building communal houses to crave for a year of abundant harvests. In the period of King Le Thanh Tong (1442-1497), Tet was the most important festival and hundreds of mandarins had to gather at the royal court to celebrate this lunar new year festival with royal families.

tet holiday in the past

The Tet Holiday’s Foods

In the Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tet also means to eat, which affirmed the important role of Vietnam’s Lunar New Year’s Food. One Vietnamese traditional proverb denotes that you can be hungry all year except for three days of the Tet festival because dozens of delicious dishes and desserts will be prepared on Lunar New Year in Vietnam to feast on the ancestors as well as every family member.

tet holiday food and desserts

Chung Cake

Chung cake is the traditional cake in Vietnam that only appears on the Tet holiday. Tasty and savory Chung cake is made from very familiar ingredients to all Vietnamese such as sticky rice, green beans, and pork, which is wrapped in green leaves and boiled overnight. According to a legend that has been passed on for thousands of generations, Chung cake is the symbol of Earth because it combines all the unique ingredients of Vietnamese agriculture. Although Chung cake can be tasted in all seasons nowadays, enjoying these cakes during the Tet holiday still brings special feelings to Vietnamese people.

chung cake tet holiday vietnam lunar new year

Jam – Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Dessert

Jam is a common snack to welcome guests on the Tet holiday. It is mainly made from dried fruits like carrots, coconuts, apples, or some kinds of seeds such as roasted watermelon seeds, and sunflower seeds mixed with sugar. The Vietnamese believe eating sweet things on the Tet holiday will bring them luck for the Lunar New Year.

jam vietnam lunar new year dessert

Pickled Onions

On the Tet holiday, people often eat fast and oiled foods which easily cloys their appetite. This is high time for something with low calories and fresh like pickled onions. They help the digestive system digest high-protein food more easily. In the minds of Vietnamese people, Tet is only complete when there are fat meat, pickled onions, and red distiches.

Pickled Onions vietnamese lunar new year dishes

Besides, there is a myriad of signature dishes that inspire the taste in different regions of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year such as spring rolls, boiled chickens, Vietnamese sausages, sticky rice, and so on.

Mascots of Tet holiday

Vietnamese Zodiac Signs

Each Lunar New Year will have a symbolic animal. 12 Vietnamese zodiac signs are different from Chinese ones (The fourth zodiac sign in Vietnam is Cat while it is Rabbit in China). Every animal will bring unique luck in its year so you can see them everywhere in Vietnam through Tet holiday decorations or advertisement signs. Tet holiday 2023 is the year of the Cat.

vietnamese zodiac sign tet holiday customs

Trees & Flowers on Tet Holiday

Peach blossoms in Northern Vietnam and apricot blossom trees in Southern Vietnam are also symbols that exclusively appear on the Tet holiday. The light red of peach blossom will bring luck while the yellow of apricot blossom will bring fortune to the owners. It is said that Tet Vietnam will lose itself if missing two of them.

flower market on Vietnamese lunar new year

Neu Tree

It is originally a 5-meter tall bamboo shoot. The chop of the tree hangs different things based on each region such as votive papers, amulet exorcism, or alcohol bottles made of straw. It is believed that the appearance of the Neu tree on the Tet holiday in Vietnam is the signal for the devils to realize that this place is home to living people, not to harass.

neu tree vietnam lunar new year traditions

Tray of Five Fruits

This is a tray of five different fruits such as bananas, grapefruits, oranges, and other tropical fruits which are only prepared on the Vietnamese New Year. Although each region chooses different fruits, a tray of five fruits is still used to express the wishes for the Lunar New Year of the host family by their names, colors, and arrangements.

tray of five fruits tet holiday vietnam lunar new year

In addition, kumquat trees, Dong Ho paintings, and red distiches are also believed by the Vietnamese to bring luck and wealth for them all around the year.

How is Tet Holiday Celebrated?

Before Tet Holiday – How Vietnam Lunar New Year is Prepared?

Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao (Gods & Goddess of Kitchen)

On the 23rd of the last month in the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people prepare the traditional offerings and especially the carps to regale the gods and goddesses living at their house all over the year. Then they will release the carp into the river so they will be used by the Gods as transportations to come to heaven, according to the legend. In heaven, they will report everything happening all around the year of their family to the King of heaven. They will come back on the last day of the year to celebrate the Tet holiday with the host. The carps then become the dragons. Tet Ong Cong, Ong Tao of Tet holiday 2023 is on January 14th.

worshipping gods of kitchen tet holiday vietnam lunar new year
Altar of Kitchen Gods

Cleaning & Decorating the House

Tet holiday is also called by the jolly name “house-cleaning festival”. A week before the Tet festival, all members of the family clean the house, the garden, the altars, do Tet holiday decorations. Broken things will be repaired, old things will be replaced. Clothes and decorations such as lanterns, distiches, and led lights will be bought. All those preparations have the same purpose – to be the best to welcome the Lunar New Year festival and to receive luck as well as fortune.

tet holiday decorations

The Last Day of the Year & Lunar New Year Eve

On the last day of the year, every member of different generations gathers around a grand banquet to enjoy the last meal of the year. The talk at that time is about things already happening in the year. The ambiance of the reunion is always the most wonderful and happiest of all.

last meal of the year tet holiday vietnam lunar new year
Last meal of the year

On Lunar New Year Eve, the young often go out to watch the Tet holiday firework performance while the elderly and adults stay at home making offerings of pig head, boiled chicken, rice, and salt for outdoor worshipping to the Gods and indoor one to the ancestors. They will pray for a new year of luck, health, and fortune to every family member.

vietnamese lunar new year dragon dance
Dragon Dance at Tet Festival

After that, the young return home and become the first ones to come to the house in the lunar new year. It is believed that the wishes of that person for the host will come true. Then everyone gathers again to drink some alcohol or juice. Then the wishes, as well as plans of every person for the new year, will be shared with others.

ask for letters on tet holiday vietnam lunar new year
Asking for Lucky Letters

During Tet Holiday – Vietnamese Lunar New Year Traditions & Customs

Lunar New Year in Vietnam traditionally lasts for three days. People often stay at home to welcome guests to their houses or go to their relatives and neighborhood houses. The elderly will be received the Tet holiday’s gifts and wishes for health, the adults will be received the ones for fortune and success while the young and children will be received lucky money. Laughs and talks appear everywhere on the Tet holiday these days. Besides, Vietnamese people often go to pagodas. By donating money and asking for letters, they will receive several lucks and a fortune.

happy children for receiving lucky money on tet holiday

Vietnamese New Year Wishes & Greetings

The Tet festival is the main holiday in Vietnam. Therefore, Vietnamese people will give each other the best wishes for a lucky and successful Lunar New Year. Below are some of the Tet holiday greetings and wishes with meanings in English.

  • Chuc Mung Nam Noi: Happy Vietnam Lunar New Year
  • An Khang Thinh Vuong: Wish you are always safe and sound, wealthy, and prosperous.
  • Van Su Nhu Y: All your wishes will come true.
  • Tan Tai Tan Loc: Wish you a new year of fortune.

Festivals & Activities after Tet Holiday

Tet Vietnam ends when votive papers are burned and offerings are taken down from the altars to share with every family member. It is the time for people to join in festivals all around the country after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year such as the buffalo fighting festivals or boat racing, wrestling, lion or dragon dances. Festivals will be organized for a month after the Tet holiday so you are able to attend and explore them as many as possible.

festival after vietnamese lunar new year

To talk about Tet Holiday, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a priceless value in Vietnam and an indispensable part of the life of all Vietnamese people. Plan Vietnam tours to enjoy the Tet holiday and experience unforgettable experiences of Vietnamese cultures, customs, and traditions.

The Tet Holiday Dates & Corresponding Zodiac Animals

YearVietnamese Lunar New Year DateVietnamese Zodiac Sign

16 thoughts on “Tet Holiday – Everything about Vietnamese New Year 2023

  1. Harry says:

    To the Vietnamese people, Vietnam New Year or Tet holiday is the most important festival around the year. The Tet festival often takes place from late January to early February depending on the cycle of the Lunar Calendar. The three days of January of the Lunar Calendar are the most significant days but people in Vietnam often spend nearly half of a month to celebrate the festival.

    Traditionally, the purpose of the Tet holiday is that Vietnamese people would like to thank Gods for bringing the Spring full of blossoming flowers and trees and say goodbye to the cold winter. Tet holiday is a spiritual opportunity for living people to invite deceased ancestors to join family gatherings. This is also an occasion for members of the family to reunite after a long year of working far from home. Whatever they do and wherever people are, they quickly find ways to return their hometowns and meet their loved ones.

    Before Tet holiday, people clean their houses and decorate them beautifully with kumquat trees, peach blossoms, or apricot blossoms. The streets are also festooned with lightening lanterns and red banner “Chuc Mung Nam Moi” or “Happy Vietnam New Year”. They try to clean and dush-wash everything because the cleaning is believed to erase and sweep away all the dust and bad things that accumulate in the old year. Additionally, everyone has their hair cut, buy new clothes, and bring gifts to their relatives, friends, and supervisors. They spend lots of money to buy all the best things to ensure that they will have a prosperous year. Another vital thing is that all the debts should be paid off or else they will bring bad lucks to the whole new year.

    Tat Nien – or the meal in New Year’s Eve is the meal to finish the entire year. There are lots of well-prepared dishes and everyone happily enjoys the meal while talking about good memories and nice things. They have many traditional foods such as Chung Cake (Sticky rice cake), Day cake, pickled onion, pork, beef, sweets, dried fruits, and seeds. After that, people may go out to watch fireworks displayed in the public area or simply stay at home and watch Tao Quan (a very famous TV show in Vietnam that is only broadcasted on the 30th of Lunar December).

    During Vietnam New Year, the first guest coming to the house plays an important role because they are believed to hold in their hand all the lucks of the family. Then people visit their grandparents and relatives. The second day is for friends and colleagues and the third day is especially for teachers. In those days, children are given lucky money inside the red envelopes as the red and lucky money are considered good things and may keep children away from the evils. People also go to the pagodas and pray so that they could have a year of prosperity, happiness, and health.

    Tet holiday nowadays is still being well preserved. Vietnamese New Year is not only for relaxation and family gatherings but also a chance for Vietnamese people developing their cultural and national identity.

  2. Santiago says:

    Hi there,

    I consider going to Hanoi in early February and I just read that Tet holiday 2019 falls on February 5. Does the holiday affect tours, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc? Would it be advisable to get to Vietnam before or after Tet holiday?


  3. Harry says:

    Hi Santiago

    It is true to say that travel during the actual days of Vietnam New Year is quite difficult. The accommodation might be plentiful and some restaurants will be closed according to the holiday break. However, I think you should come here in Tet holiday to really appreciate the excitement amongst the locals and the unique atmosphere in Vietnam. I’m sure that you don’t want to miss it, just remember to book your tour or accommodation as soon as possible to ensure your stay.


  4. Nilmar says:


    I’m going to Vietnam in late January for about 2 weeks. How many days are in Tet ? I really want to enjoy Tet holiday atmosphere once in my Vietnam vacation.

    Many thanks,

  5. Harry says:

    Hi Nilmar,

    Vietnamese Tet (Vietnam New Year) is considered as the biggest and longest holiday in Vietnam, which may last up to seven to ten days. Vietnamese New Year in 2019 will last from 4 February ( New Year’s Eve) to 10 February. Hope you will have a great time in Vietnam and enjoy the Tet atmosphere to the most.


  6. Mike says:

    We will be in Ho chi Ming City Feb.7th and have a ride set up from airport directly to an apartment we rented on back beach in Vung Tau through Feb. 11th. Do you have any ideas on what we should try and see during Tet? Also will and when will the banks be open in Vung Tau darning these times? Thank You.

  7. Harry says:

    Hi, Mike

    I recommend you should experience a colorful and exciting Tet holiday in Ho Chi Minh City or a traditional but interesting Vietnamese Lunar New Year at Mekong Delta.
    Vung Tau beach is also a wonderful destination for you to enjoy this festival.
    Banks and other state-run offices will come back to work at February 11th, 2019.


  8. Mark Christian says:

    I will definitely go there someday and meet the woman that I love… So I think this is the best time to have vacation there!

  9. Harry says:

    Ong Cong is the God of the land where the house is built while Ong Tao is the God of the Kitchen.

  10. Harry says:

    Hi Christa,
    You can prepare a gift basket including wine, some types of soft cakes, biscuits, candies…which can easily found in groceries.
    You should prepare some red envelopes and money inside as the lucky money for children and adults of the host family.

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