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Lunar New Year in Vietnam

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Year of the Rooster

Cock-a-doodle-doooooo!

It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rooster — so as a gesture of appreciation to our JSOM students, staff and faculty who celebrate this holiday, let’s learn more about it.

Lunar New Year is calculated based on the lunar calendar and usually falls around late January or early February. It is widely celebrated in East Asia, but each country does it a little differently. Here are a few holiday traditions observed in my home country, Vietnam:

Flowers of Tết

Lunar New Year, also known as Tết, is a time for renewal. It marks the beginning of spring, when fresh buds bloom and nature comes to life. As the weather gets warmer, families pour into flower markets to buy peach or apricot blossoms for their homes.

Peach blossoms. Photo: Nam Nguyen Studio
Apricot blossoms.

Traditional Food

Boiled chicken, Vietnamese ham, fried rolls and candied fruits all sound yummy, but if there’s a must-have during Tết, it has to be Bánh Chưng (northern Vietnam) or Bánh Tét (southern Vietnam). Although different in shape, they’re both made of sticky rice, mung beans and pork wrapped in green leaves. The dish is steamed overnight, and family members usually stay up together and play card games while taking turns to check on it.

Families making Bánh Chưng and Bánh Tét. Photo: vietravel.com
Lunar New Year feast. Photo: daynauan.vn

Ông Công, Ông Táo

According to folk tales, there are three little gods generally referred to as Ông Công Ông Táo who live in each home and would depart a week before New Year’s Eve to report to the King of Heaven about the family’s rights and wrongs during the year. Hence, every year on this day, each family would buy three carps and release them into a lake as means of transportation for these gods to return to the sky.

Releasing of the carp. Photo: giadinh.net.vn

Good Luck

One of the most important rituals during Tết is choosing the first person to enter the house, because that person is believed to determine the household’s good luck (or bad luck) for the whole year. People also generally practice good behavior during the holiday in hopes of a peaceful and prosperous year.

The Lunar New Year brings together family. Photo: blog.bizweb.vn

Reunion

Above all, Tết is a time for reunion. During the first five days of the new year, people visit their relatives and friends to exchange gifts and good wishes. Children wish their parents good health and longevity, while little kids receive lucky money in red envelopes as an encouragement to do well in school.

What do you think about our traditions? Do you celebrate Lunar New Year differently? Let me know in the comments below and CHÚC MỪNG NĂM MỚI!

Linh Nguyen

Linh P. Nguyen is a social media student worker at the Jindal School. She graduated with a BS in Marketing in 2015 and is now earning her MS in Business Analytics. If you are obsessed with good design and unpopular music, too, look for her at linhpnguyen1705.wordpress.com. Read more articles

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