Vietnamese New Year, more commonly known by its shortened name Tết or “Tết Nguyên Đán”, is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Chinese calendar, a lunisolar calendar. The name Vietnam New Year 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, though exceptions arise due to the one-hour time difference between Hanoi and Beijing resulting in the alternate calculation of the new moon. It 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. 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, giving lucky money to children and elderly people, and opening a shop.
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. They consider Tết to be the first day of spring and the festival is often called Hội xuân (spring festival).
Tet Festival in SoCal
The Tết Festival of Southern California is recognized as the world’s largest Tết Festival outside of Vietnam. Helping preserve culture, the festival boasts 100,000+ visitors and dozens of booths in a span of a three day weekend event. Visitors are emersed with a vibrant array of traditional foods, live entertainment, festive games, and customs celebrating the new year.
Tết is the most observed holiday within Vietnamese culture. It celebrates the Lunar New Year, the beginning of Spring, and a way to start fresh. The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA) has been the host of the Tết Festival for more than 30 years. The spirit and hard-work from students and volunteers helps bring the festival to life. Granted the exclusive right to host the festival in 2002, UVSA contributes thousands of volunteer hours to help youth build strong leadership skills, cultural awareness, and experiences. 50% of the profit from the festival is given back to the community.