Tomorrow is the beginning of Tet, the celebration of Lunar New Year. Tet starts on January 26th and ends on February 1st, with New Years day on January 28th. 2017 is the year of the rooster, which is one of the 12 zodiac signs and is a fearless and fiery fighter. You will find roosters on everything right now.
Tet is a time to get the bad luck out and invite the good luck in. Every home has an ancestral alter and before the new year it is taken especially good care of. Homes are cleaned from top to bottom, new clothes are bought for New Years Day, and debts are paid before the year ends. Kumquat trees, peach blossoms and other colorful flowers are placed in the home and decorated.
The new year is an important holiday for families to spend time together. Children have a break from school for two weeks, and it is common and expected for families to travel to their parents homes to spend time with them. It’s a week of eating and sitting around with family. Special dishes will be prepared like Banh Chung, which is sticky rice, green bean paste, and pork wrapped in leaves and stewed in water for hours.
It will be quiet in Hanoi, and most restaurants and shops will close down for at least part of Tet. Most foreigners will leave the city during Tet, because it will be quiet and there really isn’t anything to do for almost 10 days unless you have family nearby.
It’s been beautiful watching the Vietnamese people get ready for the new year. There are lots of pretty blossoms around Hanoi, and many vibrant lights. The city is covered in red and gold. At night, the Tet markets appear throughout the city selling food and goods to give as gifts or put in your home.
Happy New Year! Or as the Vietnamese say “Chuc Mung Nam Moi!”