“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới”
For those of you that have not been or are not part of a Vietnamese family, that phrase roughly translates to “Happy New Year,” and hearing it signals the beginning of Tết, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year. (Based on the Chinese Calendar)
2012 The Year of The Dragon
The Year 2012 is the 4709th Chinese year…is the year of Dragon…2012 is a Black Dragon or Water Dragon year. This is because the Stem-Branch Calendar is connected to the Five Element theory. Chinese calendars used the Stem-Branch system to count the days, months and years. There are 10 Stems and 12 Branches in this system. Stems are named by the Yin-Yang and Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth)…The Stem sequence order is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit/Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep/Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig… Stem and Branch are used together to form a cycle of 60 counting systems which begin with Wooden Rat and end with Water Pig. You can see the entire sequence from the Chinese New Year’s page. From 1924 to 1983 is a complete cycle. Year 2012 is Male Water Dragon the 29th of the Stem-Branch in the system. BecauseWater is connected to Black in the Five-Element system, Year 2012 is also called the Black Dragon year.
Tết Nguyên Đán,
More commonly known by its shortened name Tết or “Vietnamese Lunar New Year”, is by far the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam.
Unlike the Western version of New Year, where the traditions are usually limited to a midnight countdown, Tết has a number of specific and symbolically important customs.
Although for the non-Vietnamese it may be hard to fully understand all the significance attached to Tết, it is easy to see the pride, and joy, and energy that Vietnamese people put into this wonderful celebration of culture, food, family, and life in general.
It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Chinese calendar, a lunisolar calendar. the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).
The name Tết Nguyên Đán is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning, derived from the Hán nôm characters 節元旦.
Tết is celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year and takes place from the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar (around late January or early February) until at least the third day.
Preparation for Tet starts weeks before New Year’s Day. Homes are cleaned to get rid of bad fortune associated with the old year. Families paint their homes to give it a new look. Everyone gets new clothes and new shoes. Pay your debts and resolve differences between family and friends.
On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, fried, boiled, or stewed dishes, meat, fish, vegetable… The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse, but the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests.
During the middle of the day an offering is placed on the altar of the household for the ancestor’s of the family. This is done every day throughout the New Year Festival and along with that incense is burnt at the altar. This last tradition is what gives Tết an interesting balance. Though it is a forward-looking renewal of sorts marking the arrival of Spring, it is also firmly rooted in the past, with an important emphasis put on paying respects to ones ancestors
Tết is also an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. During Tết, Vietnamese visit their relatives and temples, forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year.
Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese believe that the color red and yellow will bring good fortune, which explains why these colors can be see everywhere.
Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is calledmừng tuổi (happy new age) in the north and lì xi in the south.
Many Vietnamese prepare for Tết by cooking special holiday foods and cleaning the house. There are a lot of customs practiced during Tết, such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year (xông nhà), ancestral worshipping, wishing New Year’s greetings and giving lucky money to children and elderly people.
They also believe in the custom of the first person through the door in the New Year will reflect the family’s future luck and wealth.